The ungentle laws and customs touched upon in this tale are historical, and the episodes which are used to illustrate them are also historical. It is not pretended that these laws and customs existed in England in the sixth century; no, it is only pretended that inasmuch as they existed in the English and other civilizations of far later times, it is safe to consider that it is no libel upon the sixth century to suppose them to have been in practice in that day also. One is quite justified in inferring that whatever one of these laws or customs was lacking in that remote time, its place was competently filled by a worse one.
The question as to whether there is such a thing as divine right of kings is not settled in this book. It was found too difficult. That the executive head of a nation should be a person of lofty character and extraordinary ability, was manifest and indisputable; that none but the Deity could select that head unerringly, was also manifest and indisputable; that the Deity ought to make that selection, then, was likewise manifest and indisputable; consequently, that He does make it, as claimed, was an unavoidable deduction. I mean, until the author of this book encountered the Pompadour, and Lady Castlemaine, and some other executive heads of that kind; these were found so difficult to work into the scheme, that it was judged better to take the other tack in this book (which must be issued this fall), and then go into training and settle the question in another book. It is, of course, a thing which ought to be settled, and I am not going to have anything particular to do next winter anyway.
MARK TWAIN, HARTFORD, July 21, 1889
This tale begins when the "yankee," a skilled mechanic in a 19th century New England arms factory, is struck on the head during a quarrel, and awakens to find himself being taken as a prisoner to the Camelot of 528 A. D. With his 19th century know-how, the "yankee" sets out to modernize the Kingdom, but is opposed by a jealous court magician. Clever enough, but buried beneath Twain's humor is a serious social satire.
A Yankee engineer from Connecticut is accidentally transported back in time to the court of King Arthur, where he fools the inhabitants of that time into thinking he is a magician, and soon uses his knowledge of modern technology to become a "magician" in earnest, stunning the English of the Early Middle Ages with such feats as demolitions, fireworks and the shoring up of a holy well. He attempts to modernize the past, but in the end he is unable to prevent the death of Arthur and an interdict against him by the Catholic Church of the time, which grows fearful of his power.
I've read this book numbers of times and I was always confused by its peculiar ending. The yankee turnes England into a confused but modernised country, but he is demised by the medieval-religious leftovers which cannot be erased easily. Anyway, I strongly recommend the book because its humour and historical perspective.
Although A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is an engaging and amusing book, I really hate to finish it. I havge read it many times, but when I reach the last few chapters, I have to force myself to finish it. Twain did not research 6th century England very well, but still wrote well. This book switches moods more often than almost any other book I have ever read. I can laugh on one page, but on the next I almost want to cry. Until the last few pages, the book is infused with a strange hope: a hope for the future to become bright and "modern." However, a dark, depressing foreboding permeats the final chapters, leading to the horrific scene of mass destruction as the dead knight rot and kill everyone but the Boss. He finally dies, raving like a maniac.
I would recommend this book despite the dreadful ending because its satirical gaiety and delightful adventures charm and enchant the reader.
I loved this book so much. I read it in 11th grade and I could not put it down. I don't think that it's Mark Twain's best story, but it is definitely interesting. I would reccomend reading this book for pleasure.
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