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

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 ...

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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:

  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
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: 9781411431997
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 6/1/2009
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 528
  • Sales rank: 62,718
  • File size: 25 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

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
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 280 Customer Reviews
  • 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.

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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.

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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 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2013

    terrible

    Too short

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2012

    Pointless

    Way to boring!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2012

    Whoops

    The reviews for every version of this book have been jumbled up! If you are going to get this then get the one for barnes and noble classics! So what if its three bucks more, it's readable!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 29, 2009

    A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is an incredibly entertaining read that is sad, touching, and droll at all the right times.

    What would happen if a man today traveled back in time to the middle ages and superimposed himself on the government? The result is some of the most inspired satire ever created, known as A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, written by Mark Twain. The protagonist, Hank Morgan, is smart and cynical, the perfect man to poke fun at the romanticized ideas of chivalry and feudalism. He uses his knowledge and cunning to prove himself an all-powerful magician, which secures him a position in the government as second-in-command to the king. Hank isn't without his flaws; he suffers from a temper and can act irrationally because of it in some cases. However, he's a hilarious and usually kind character that's easy to get attached to.

    As funny as some encounters can get, there are also some downright shocking moments. Heartbreaking displays are shown throughout the book: families with smallpox left to die, slavery, and incredibly twisted seeming governmental policies. Not only is it gruesome, but it is all considered normal in the sixth century. Although the deplorable state of humanity in that time is only part of the focus of the book, it certainly has a powerful and profound effect on the reader.

    It goes without saying that this book is an absolute delight. It's easily equal to any of Mark Twain's other classics. Hank Morgan should be regarded as one of the great characters: one who's never perfect, but always entertaining.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 25, 2009

    The Pursuit Of Power Can Be A Cancer

    The Boss: Glory Days
    Mark Twain touches on multiple themes in his work A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. One of the main themes is how Twain's hero, the "curious stranger" Hank Morgan achieves his goals through the attainment of power. One could argue that the proper source for power, however cliché, is knowledge. As Hank is a manufacturer in an arms factory; he has a working knowledge of all things practical in the world of weapons, and "labor saving machinery" (8). Hank's first resource in obtaining power is through his advanced understanding of how things work. Also Hank's awareness of his place in history, and his use of common sense play an important role in his ability to influence.
    Additionally, Hank achieves power through the use of manipulation and exploiting the naivety of the people in the region, as well as the humiliation of Merlin. Hank maintains his power through his enterprising and industrious nature, as well as his savvy ability. He also recognizes the need to maintain power by being visible; he does so by making appearances at the tournaments for two reasons: "a man must not hold himself aloof from the things which his friends and his community have at heart if he would be liked-especially as a statesman." (44). He also wanted to study the tournament to see if he could perfect it.

    It's clear that Hank disfavors nobility or inherited power of an individual as a means to rule. Though ironically it's hard to ignore the similarities between Hank's secretive rise to power and Hitler's swift, and stealthy conquering of eastern Europe before WWII. It's important that one recognizes the importance of limiting powers, moreover having a system of checks and balances for any individual, organized institutions, governments, or power structure. Finally it's equally important to try to get to the fundamental reason behind Hank's desire to achieve power, was it for the public good or was it his vanity and need for self-congratulation? Maybe Hank really wants a utopian society where all things are equal for the people of the realm, or maybe he's just out for self -righteous glory.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2012

    Ninja to roen

    That makes it worse trust me i know

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 13, 2011

    WELL DONE B&N

    The drawings in this book are great! And the print is not too small. Buy this book just for the drawings. I am not commenting on the story but is a neat story.

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  • Posted September 29, 2011

    Love this book

    I read this book in 6th grade and I loved it. Though it's pretty detailed and "boring" in parts it had a great story line and plot. I loved it!!! -Shea, a freshman :)

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  • Posted September 12, 2011

    Wanted to enjoy, but it became hard

    I really enjoy reading Mark Twain, but I had never read "Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" before; so I decided to download it as my first book to read on my Nook. By and by I was dissapointed at mostly every turn. A good bit of my dissapointment was led by the abismal way in which this book is transcribed for the Nook. There are literary mistakes on almost every page, some minor like "mi = me," other major where paragraphs get mismatched ( normally by information the transcribtionist throws inbetween dialog). As for Mark Twain is writing performance is on a higher platform, than that transcribed. The story was just hard to follow at times, because it is a commentary, in my opinion, on his (M.T) time period; which becomes hard to follow if you don't know it. Between his essays and time period commentary, however, is a wonderful story of fantasy and science, history and modern-age merging like oil and water. It was a fun read, for the most part, but a very challenging one as well.

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  • Posted March 5, 2011

    Pretty funny for the late 1800's

    This book was actually pretty entertaining. I did not find it very political, like some of the criticism included charges. The old English speaking in the story was somewhat unintelligible to me at times. The plot is just consistently funny though.

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  • Posted March 4, 2011

    My Favorite Twain Book!

    Your high school or university will have you read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but A Connecticut Yankee is where it's at. Though Huckleberry Finn took on a major evil of society at its time, slavery, A Connecticut Yankee shows us how society should be structured, through socialism. It's entertaining and provides lots of food for thought. It's structure is more cohesive than Huck Finn, too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2010

    Equal Parts Time Travel Adventure and Satirical Brilliance

    As you can expect with Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court contains both an exciting adventure and satirical insight into society. The adventure in this book is obviously a trip back in time to King Arthur's Court bringing Merlin into the story. It was a great read. Unlike some of Twain's later works that are often too pessimistic for me, this one is a fun read.

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  • Posted February 7, 2010

    mark twain book

    this book is pretty good. if you like mixed type of books, you will like this book. its horribly boring in some parts but mostly interesting and can be a little funny at times. its pretty long so you should read this when you have a lot of time.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 8, 2009

    An alright book

    I thought this book was a decent book, but it definitely could have been better. Again I do dislike how the intro written by another author basically gives away the whole story, so that nothing ends up being a surprise in the book. Not all introductions do this, but this is the second book (Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde being the other one) where I felt all the plot twists were told before I even began reading the book. That being said this was another great story told by an amazing story teller in Mark Twain. Granted The Prince & the Pauper is still my favorite book by Twain, but I would rank this book up there with Huck Finn, and even above Tom Sawyer. Something that was good about the intro is when it was discussed how Huck Finn was a discription of a young Samuel Clemens, and Hank was a description of more cynical & experienced Mark Twain. The story of the evolution from Hank, factory worker to Sir Boss, the king's highest advisor, I felt was done very well. However, I do have a couple complaints about this story like the gaps in the novel that never got properly explained. An example of this is the relationship between Hank and the woman I believe ends up being his wife and mother of his child. It starts out with him being hesitant to do anything with her due to him have another woman in his time he was in a relationship with, and then all of sudden he is married & has child with her? Also, whereas most of the novel is rather drawn out, it comes to a sudden end with the war that ends chivalry in England & then Hank falls into a deep slumber. The ending needed to be explained a little more, and the supposed end to English chivalry was hard to believe.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Conneticut Yankee

    This beloved tale shows what it would be like to travel back in time, right into King Arthur's court. What would you change if you could?

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