A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, by Mark Twain, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble ...
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A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, by Mark Twain, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

 

One of the greatest satires in American literature, Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court begins when Hank Morgan, a skilled mechanic in a nineteenth-century New England arms factory, is struck on the head during a quarrel and awakens to find himself among the knights and magicians of King Arthur’s Camelot.

What follows is a culture clash of the first magnitude, as practical-minded Hank, disgusted with the ignorance and superstition of the people, decides to enlighten them with education and technology. Through a series of wonderfully imaginative adventures, Twain celebrates American homespun ingenuity and democracy as compared to the backward ineptitude of a chivalric monarchy. At the same time, however, Twain raises the question of whether material progress necessarily creates a better society. As Hank becomes more powerful and self-righteous, he also becomes more ruthless, more autocratic, and less able to control events, until the only way out is a massively destructive war.

While the dark pessimism that would fully blossom in Twain’s later works can be discerned in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, the novel will nevertheless be remembered primarily for its wild leaps of imagination, brilliant wit, and entertaining storytelling.

With over 200 of the original illustrations by Dan Beard.

 

Stephen Railton teaches American literature at the University of Virginia. His most recent book is Mark Twain: A Short Introduction.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593082109
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 9/1/2005
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Pages: 528
  • Sales rank: 101,795
  • Product dimensions: 7.96 (w) x 5.18 (h) x 1.44 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Railton teaches American literature at the University of Virginia. His most recent book is Mark Twain: A Short Introduction.

Biography

Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens on November 30, 1835, in Florida, Missouri; his family moved to the port town of Hannibal four years later. His father, an unsuccessful farmer, died when Twain was eleven. Soon afterward the boy began working as an apprentice printer, and by age sixteen he was writing newspaper sketches. He left Hannibal at eighteen to work as an itinerant printer in New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Cincinnati. From 1857 to 1861 he worked on Mississippi steamboats, advancing from cub pilot to licensed pilot.

After river shipping was interrupted by the Civil War, Twain headed west with his brother Orion, who had been appointed secretary to the Nevada Territory. Settling in Carson City, he tried his luck at prospecting and wrote humorous pieces for a range of newspapers. Around this time he first began using the pseudonym Mark Twain, derived from a riverboat term. Relocating to San Francisco, he became a regular newspaper correspondent and a contributor to the literary magazine the Golden Era. He made a five-month journey to Hawaii in 1866 and the following year traveled to Europe to report on the first organized tourist cruise. The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and Other Sketches (1867) consolidated his growing reputation as humorist and lecturer.

After his marriage to Livy Langdon, Twain settled first in Buffalo, New York, and then for two decades in Hartford, Connecticut. His European sketches were expanded into The Innocents Abroad (1869), followed by Roughing It (1872), an account of his Western adventures; both were enormously successful. Twain's literary triumphs were offset by often ill-advised business dealings (he sank thousands of dollars, for instance, in a failed attempt to develop a new kind of typesetting machine, and thousands more into his own ultimately unsuccessful publishing house) and unrestrained spending that left him in frequent financial difficulty, a pattern that was to persist throughout his life.

Following The Gilded Age (1873), written in collaboration with Charles Dudley Warner, Twain began a literary exploration of his childhood memories of the Mississippi, resulting in a trio of masterpieces --The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), Life on the Mississippi (1883), and finally The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), on which he had been working for nearly a decade. Another vein, of historical romance, found expression in The Prince and the Pauper (1882), the satirical A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889), and Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (1896), while he continued to draw on his travel experiences in A Tramp Abroad (1880) and Following the Equator (1897). His close associates in these years included William Dean Howells, Bret Harte, and George Washington Cable, as well as the dying Ulysses S. Grant, whom Twain encouraged to complete his memoirs, published by Twain's publishing company in 1885.

For most of the 1890s Twain lived in Europe, as his life took a darker turn with the death of his daughter Susy in 1896 and the worsening illness of his daughter Jean. The tone of Twain's writing also turned progressively more bitter. The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894), a detective story hinging on the consequences of slavery, was followed by powerful anti-imperialist and anticolonial statements such as 'To the Person Sitting in Darkness' (1901), 'The War Prayer' (1905), and 'King Leopold's Soliloquy' (1905), and by the pessimistic sketches collected in the privately published What Is Man? (1906). The unfinished novel The Mysterious Stranger was perhaps the most uncompromisingly dark of all Twain's later works. In his last years, his financial troubles finally resolved, Twain settled near Redding, Connecticut, and died in his mansion, Stormfield, on April 21, 1910.

Author biography courtesy of Random House, Inc.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Samuel Langhorne Clemens (real name); Sieur Louis de Conte
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 30, 1835
    2. Place of Birth:
      Florida, Missouri
    1. Date of Death:
      April 21, 1910
    2. Place of Death:
      Redding, Connecticut

Read an Excerpt

From Stephen Railton’s Introduction to A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

 

            A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court may be the world’s first novel about time travel. It certainly has the most fantastic plot of all Twain’s fictions. But the inspiration to send a modern American through time as well as space sprang directly out of Twain’s long-standing literary goals. The story of the story begins on a Saturday in December 1884, with Twain traveling around the country on a reading tour to promote Huck Finn. In a bookstore in Rochester, New York, George Washington Cable, his fellow novelist and partner on the tour, suggested that Le Morte d’Arthur (The Death of Arthur), Sir Thomas Malory’s classic romance about the knights of the Round Table, would make good reading matter for the trip. Twain bought the book, began reading it the next day, and shortly afterward made a note in his journal about an idea for a sketch:

 

Dream of being a knight errant in armor in the middle ages. Have the notions & habits of thought of the present day mixed with the necessities of that. No pockets in the armor. No way to manage certain requirements of nature. Can’t scratch. Cold in the head—can’t blow—can’t get a handkerchief, can’t use iron sleeve.

 

The emphasis here is on the idea’s comic possibilities. The literary goal Twain’s audience always expected him to put first was making them laugh. As a professional humorist, one of the first tricks he learned is that people are much more likely to laugh when they’re nervous or uncomfortable. Sex, for example, that staple of modern stand-up, is not inherently funny, but it is a subject to which almost everyone attaches some degree of discomfort. The mores of Twain’s late-Victorian America ruled out sex as a subject; people laugh when they’re anxious, not when they’re offended or shocked. But the principle of making an audience uneasy enough to laugh applies to any subject in which they are emotionally over-invested, and his culture’s proprieties and evasions gave Twain many other opportunities to make his audience uneasy. One of his favorite strategies was treating something they considered sacred in a mocking or irreverent spirit. A knight in shining armor was a subject that you were supposed to approach on bended knees. If, while looking up at that knight, you notice his nose is running, the disequilibrium caused by this clash between the sacred and profane, between what a culture enshrines and what it represses, will probably seek to discharge itself through laughter. The movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail proves that Camelot is still a target-rich environment for comedy to attack; and in Mark Twain’s time, when the standard for depicting the days of knights was set by elegiac works like Tennyson’s Idylls of the King (finished in 1885), the territory Twain works in the novel was even more vulnerable to burlesque and parody.

            Twain never forgot that the job his readers paid him for was making them laugh, but that was only one of his literary goals. In an autobiographical dictation made near the end of his life, he explains how his achievement differs from that of "mere humorists” by asserting that "I have always preached.” As a text for a sermon, that dream of being a knight whose body itches in places he can’t reach points toward Twain’s project as an American realist. To Twain as a humorist, texts like Malory’s book were good things to make fun of, the "straight” resources he could exploit. But Twain also belonged to the generation of nineteenth-century novelists who defined their work as a revolt against the romance tradition. Giving that archetype of romance heroism, the knight in armor, the common "requirements of nature” exposes the ideal world of books to the real world of such things as bodily "necessities.” Hank’s favorite expletive throughout Connecticut Yankee is "Great Scott!” This is Twain’s way of keeping his narrative in dialogue with the medieval novels of Walter Scott, the British writer who, for him, epitomized the factitiousness of literary romance. Twain talks about Scott directly in Life on the Mississippi, where he makes it clear that his quarrel is not simply aesthetic. Scott, according to Twain, did "more real and lasting harm, perhaps, than any individual that ever wrote”; a book like Scott’s Ivanhoe was even "in great measure responsible” for the Civil War, because its unrealistic representations warped the minds of the white South away from "the genuine and wholesome civilization of the nineteenth century” and toward "the jejune romanticism of an absurd past that is dead.” (There is an echo of this charge in William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!, where we’re told that the horse on which Sutpen rides off to the war got its name from a Scott novel.) What Twain says in Life about history anticipates the argument he puts into Hank’s mouth: that the true Reign of Terror was not the violence of the French Revolution, but the ancien régime, the centuries of aristocratic privilege and abuse—Hank calls it "a thousand years of such villainy.” Because of enchanters like Malory, Scott, and Tennyson it is the past that "none of us has been taught to see . . . as it deserves.”

            That is Hank’s job: to cure readers of what (in Life on the Mississippi) Twain calls "the Sir Walter disease” by teaching them to see the feudal realities left out of Scott’s account. At the start Hank tells us that he is "barren of sentiment” and "poetry.” Thus he can serve as an accurate reporter on the medieval world that Scott represents by chivalrous heroes like Ivanhoe and beautiful heroines like Rowena. Alongside the "noble cavalcade” of plumed knights in chapter 1, for instance, Hank also sees "the muck, and swine, and naked brats . . . and shabby huts,” the reality of life for the common people of Arthur’s realm, the poverty, ignorance, injustice, and slavery that never get described in the ideal world romance creates. Having brought Hank across 1,300 years Twain takes him on two more trips, both through Arthur’s realm: first with Sandy (chapters 11–20), then with the King (chapters 27–38). The sights Hank sees on these travels—the tortured prisoners in Morgan le Fay’s dungeon, the impoverished peasant family dying of smallpox—work to disenchant readers of any nostalgia they might have felt for the mythic past.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 273 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 319 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2012

    This is the best B&N and Googlescan can do?????

    For pete's sake! Every third word is mispelled or replaced with an inappropriate word. It's like having spellcheck correcting the entire works of Twain!

    As a new nook user, now I know how they get you to upgrade to the paid versions...just make the free ones unreadable.

    12 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2012

    A bit No really bad

    I would give it 0 stars if i couldd the paragraphs were jumbled in with each other and ut was really confusing i only gor ti page 30 if yiu reading this dont take up the wasted space

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 19, 2012

    I like the book, but the formatting of this particular version w

    I like the book, but the formatting of this particular version was really bad, at least on Nook for Android. The beginning of the book was garbled with the very first paragraph beginning in the middle and others out of order. I am going to look for a different version.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2011

    This book has a unique plot. A great classic.

    Mark Twain's book is about a nineteenth century Yankee named Hank who finds himself in Camelot after getting hit on the head. He must immediately fight for his life and find his place in his new world. His resources include his knowledge of the future, an understanding of technology and machinery, and a quick wit.
    The plot focuses on Hank's attempts to refine the culture and ideas of this early medieval time. I liked the way that events in the story unfolded because it was refreshingly unpredictable and unique. At one point in time, he is posting billboards on knights for advertisement purposes, and later he is lassoing knights from their saddles in a jousting tournament. Although these things may seem silly and off-the-wall, Twain uses interesting, eye-catching language (for instance, when he is describing the castle on page thirty-three, he says, "There was no gas, there were no candles' a bronzed dish half full of boardinghouse butter with a blazing rag floating in it was the thing that produced what was regarded as light"). His description of simple things is still extremely interesting. He provides a deeper message about politics and the oppression of the people.
    Although I sincerely enjoyed the plot and Twain's language, I did not like Hank as a character. As he came into power due to his knowledge and understanding, he became conceited. He liked to think of the world around him as a stage; he would do things in a way that would be the most picturesque, instead of in ways that would most easily help himself and the people around him. As an example, Hank, at one point in the novel, chants in a magical language as he is freeing water from a well with an explosion. Twain seems to be teaching a lesson by pointing out the flaws in Hank, but at times his character was annoying to me because of his showy attitude.
    Altogether, the book was very enjoyable. My own dislikes as I read the story were few and minor. The story is very well done and deserves to be read if you are looking for a good classic.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2006

    Great Book!!!

    I loved this book! It is so funny and really an enjoyable read. I love anything by Mark Twain because he puts such humor into potentially boring subjects. He really lightens up the whole King Arthur story. I would recommend this book to anyone I know. You must read this book!!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2012

    Its ALRIGHT

    The book is good after you get past the photo copies but its anoying that google is thrown in everywhere in the book

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2012

    PINEAPPLE!

    Pineapple. PINEAPPLE AND TACO

    3 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 2, 2013

    One of my favorite books. It's so smart and deep. Some moments a

    One of my favorite books. It's so smart and deep. Some moments are emotional but it is written with humor and some moments you can't help but laugh with amazement and admiration. Mark Twain is brilliant. 

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2013

    this is actully a great read but I would not reccommend this ver

    this is actully a great read but I would not reccommend this version. thie books that are digitized are really hard to read unless you are into that sort of thing. go pay the couple of bucks and get it so you can actully read it

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2013

    ????????

    I read the reviews and lets just say im confused. Pinaples and politics? Is that what youve got to say about this book and whats that got to do about King Author and Yankees?

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2013

    Hi

    There are some missed spelled words and the paragraphs are jumblled up but it us really good. By the way im 11.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 20, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I like the story, I just don't like the prose he used. It becam

    I like the story, I just don't like the prose he used. It became tedious to read after awhile. I seem to have this same problem with many 18th and 19th century works. The eBook didn't have many obvious errors, just some weird page breaks due to the transfer process.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 1999

    In a word . . . wonderful!

    A good friend recommended that I read this book and I enjoyed every word. First of all, I thought it was hilarious, full of biting satire. Secondly, it was such a fresh look at Camelot, Twain wasn't held back by the idealized and over-romanicized legends of King Arthur. I highly recommend this book, it may change your point of view.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2014

    Hi

    I love u this much

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2013

    Unreadable electronic formatting.

    Very poor edition.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2013

    Unreadable electronic formatting.

    Yet another unreadable version.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2013

    Awwwwwwwwwwwsome

    Must read hilarious

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2013

    Awsome book

    Must read

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2013

    terrible

    Too short

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2013

    Love the classics for free

    Did anyone read the description. It is translated from a book written prior to 1923. It clearly explains there will be errors. If you want to read an updated edited version then pay for it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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