A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is both a whimsical fantasy and a social satire chock-full of brilliant Twainisms. Hank Morgan, a 19th-century American - a Connecticut Yankee - by a stroke of fate is sent back into time to sixth-century England and ends up in Camelot and King Arthur's Court. Although of average intelligence, he finds himself with knowledge beyond any of those in the sixth century, and he uses it to become the king's right-hand man and to challenge Merlin as the court magician. Astounded at the way of life in Camelot, Hank does the only thing he can think of to do: change them. In his attempt to civilize medieval Camelot, he experiences many challenges and misadventures.
Public Domain (P)2010 Tantor
Eclectic mixer of books of my youth and ones I always meant to read, but didn't.
When you pick up a Twain you know you'll get a good yarn. This is no exception. This is another book I read in my youth. I remember it more fondly that it appears to me now. I guess this goes to prove that tastes change and, in that sense, they mature.
It's still a good yarn. Not as funny as I remember it to be and more tragic, too. The satire is classic Twain. The wit sharp and, at times, quite brutal. The attack on the Dixie South slavery and serfdom is caustic, for example. The attack on the monarchy (more visceral than mocking) and hereditary privilege is relentless and, I felt, overdone. Perhaps that is because I don't need to be convinced. Another example is Hank Morgan's (aka Twain's) disdain of the Catholic Church. Ironically, Twain's criticism is almost religious. Similarly, his zeal for universeral sufferage is fanatical.
Through it all, there is no mistaking Twain's message. It might be written through the conceit of a Yankee who is struck on the head in the 1890s and wakes up in the 7th Century, but the opinions are still controversial in the 21st Century.
Stangely, I found the message less palatable in 2012 than I did in the 1980s, although I agee with most of Twain's views. Generally, I found it a bit forced for my modern sensibility.
From a performance point of view, William Dufris delivers his customary skilled performance. I particularly liked his Twain and his Sandy. However, there are not enough characters to allow him to shine.
Overall, I'm not sure I should have re-read this book. My memory of it was better, but that's no reflection on the production values or the performance. As a first time read, I think it would have scored better.
I grew up on Golden Age Radio, and while I love to read, I typically consume more books via audio thanks to a job that lets me listen while I work. As an aspiring writer, I try to read a great deal of non-fiction in addition to a variety of fictional genres. I especially love history, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and old-style gothic horror.
Mark Twain's rapier wit vs. the ills of the un-American world both past and present in the guise of Medieval England. Representing the case for all things un-American is King Arthur himself as characterized in Sir Thomas Malory's La Morte d'Arthur. It's no spoiler to say that Arthur's Camelot is well and truly skewered at every conceivable turn.
One of the things great literature does is hold a mirror, both to the times in which it is written and to the times in which it is read. I went through this in the midst of the government shutdown of 2013, and it's fair to say that Twain points out pretty well exactly where the flaws in our own system have been exacerbated. I found myself laughing quite a bit, but there were more than a handful of uneasy chuckles as I realized how many of his words struck home in this day and age. You see, in 1889 when this was written, Britain was in the midst of its Victorian Age, and all that Imperialist expansionism implies. The US had barely left behind the Civil War a generation back, and the wounds were still fresh. Today, the US is feeling the economic and social repercussions of its own Imperial expansionism (even when we don't acknowledge it ourselves for what it is), so the double meaning through the mirror of modern times is rather apt and sobering. Social classes, slavery, unnecessarily complex language... it's all here, and so much more, fired at with both barrels in terms that only Twain could deliver. Chapter breaks only serve to allow him to reload.
William Dufris is an astounding narrator, coming across as though Twain himself were narrating this, mocking virtually every character encountered along the path. It's a performance you have to hear to believe.
this one definitely shows mark twain's imagination. you think he had an imagination in the adventures of: tom sawyer or huckleberry finn, this one is off the charts. well done! they say charles dickens is the best england has produced, while being very imaginative charles dickens doesn't have the consistantcy that mark twain delivers.
Love listening to audio books at work or on the road.
I read this in high school and it was a great read. The only issue I have is the older bigger words make it hard to listen to when you are at work and just wanted something to listen too.
The playful way that the story compares and contrastes the cultures of the past and present.
Hard to compare to other books. It is a contemporary critique of the Arthurian error. In contrast to The Once and Future King that has a more rmantic view of the ideals of the period.
The way the characters are personified and compelling a great match for Twains writing style.
When our Yankee Hero realizes his dream is lost, and how he describes what went wrong.
I've already read all of Mark Twain's books. This was one I missed as a teenager. I put it on for my 11 and 10 year old kids to listen to during our summer vacation road trip. The societal issues just did not translate well to their age group. I kept having to explain what was going on during the mid-late 19th century to them to give them a reference point or two, but they still didn't grasp the concepts. Definitely for high schoolers at the minimum education level!
They love Tom Sawyer, though!
It was painfully boring.
Yes, I loved Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.
He over did it a bit.
All of them. I would prefer it if the book didn't exist at all. Once I start a book, I have to finish it and this was more like a chore than something enjoyable.
I am usually pretty easily entertained but this was almost an agony to finish it. I guess after his other books I just was expecting something excellent.
This is the worst narrator I have listened to, actually painful in his exaggerations. I wish I had checked the other possible narrators for the book before purchasing this one, I really wanted to hear the story, but it was so truly awful I couldn't do it. Hate to buy it all over again with a different narrator. Ugh!
Just read the story, with dignity. Stop with all the silly exaggerated breathing and yawning and gravelly, bored voice. The interpretive garbage actually damaged the story line, made it hard to follow. Grrrrr.
Yes. I already have done so.
It is a classic fish out of water, step back in time tale. What you do if you could step back into time?
Well I did like Clarence but I also enjoyed the portrayal of "Sandy".
Yes and I almost did. It was only 2 sittings anyhow.
I though Twain was making some big statements against Monarchy and Slavery. I dare say this may have been the motivation for the story. Twain is a great story teller. I do make one comment though that in reading it today not only is the language of Arthur's day antiquated, as Twain points out but the language of Twain's day is similarly so. This kinda is part of the attraction to the tale.
If they liked Sci Fi, this is the earliest example of popular alternate history work that I am aware of and its fairly good writing.
Parts of the book are very 'Mark Twain' kind of amusing yarn spinning, and other parts read more like modern sci-fi.
Excellent reader. I'll probably look for other books he's read and consider buying them no matter what they are.
I'm sure I'll keep this is my rotation of books and read it at least a few more times. There were a few slow parts, and some parts that were just too rooted in the time it was written for me to really follow completely, but overall I liked it.
"A great tale, full of wit an humour"
I spent some time listening to the samples for the different unabridged versions of this book and finally chose William Dufris. Am very pleased with my choice, he makes an excellent Connecticut Yankee and delivers the brilliant and witty dialogue in just the right way. A great story and a pleasure to listen to.
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