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Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

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Overview

The 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 blow on the head transports a Yankee to 528 A.D. ...

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A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

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Overview

The 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 blow on the head transports a Yankee to 528 A.D. where he proceeds to modernize King Arthur's kingdom by organizing a school system, constructing telephone lines, and inventing the printing press.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When Hank Morgan is transported from 19th-century Hartford, Conn., to sixth-century England, his misadventures begin as he navigates a host of dangers en route to becoming “The Boss” of Camelot. William Dufris’s enthusiastic narration is perfect; the deep drawl he produces might very well be the voice of Twain himself, and his pacing and comedic timing will delight listeners. Dufris is clearly enjoying himself, and he produces a series of unique voices for the knights and damsels Morgan meets in Camelot. (June)
From the Publisher
"Dufris's enthusiastic narration is perfect; the deep drawl he produces might very well be the voice of Twain himself, and his pacing and comedic timing will delight listeners." —-Publishers Weekly Starred Audio Review
From Barnes & Noble
Knocked unconscious by a crowbar at a factory in Hartford, Connecticut, Hank Morgan awakens to find himself a member of King Arthur's court, where he sets about outsmarting petty villains and righting 6th-century wrongs.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780007449477
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/28/2012
  • Sales rank: 300,670

Meet the Author

In his person and in his pursuits, Mark Twain (1835-1910) was a man of extraordinary contrasts. Although he left school at twelve, when his father died, he was eventually awarded honorary degrees from Yale University, the University of Missouri, and Oxford University. His career encompassed such varied occupations as printer, Mississippi riverboat pilot, journalist, travel writer, and publisher. He made fortunes from his writing, but toward the end of his life he had to resort to lecture tours to pay his debts. He was hot-tempered, profane, and sentimental—and also pessimistic, cynical, and tortured by self-doubt. His nostalgia for the past helped produce some of his best books. He lives in American letters as a great artist, the writer whom William Dean Howells called “the Lincoln of our literature.”
 
Leland Krauth is a professor of English at the University of Colorado at Boulder. A specialist in American literature, he has published numerous articles on American writers, as well as two books on Mark Twain: Proper Mark Twain and Mark Twain & Company: Six Literary Relations.

Edmund Reiss has written extensively on literature and the history of ideas from the sixth century to the nineteenth century. His books include studies of Boethius, Arthurian legend and literature, medieval lyrical poetry, and editions of Mark Twain. Formerly professor of English at Duke University, as well as Brooks Professor at the University of Queensland, he is retired on his farm in Durham, North Carolina.

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

CHAPTER I.
CAMELOT


"CAMELOT - Camelot," said I to myself. "I don't seem to remember hearing of it before. Name of the asylum, likely."

It was a soft, reposeful summer landscape, as lovely as a dream, and as lonesome as Sunday. The air was full of the smell of flowers, and the buzzing of insects, and the twittering of birds, and there were no people, no wagons, there was no stir of life, nothing going on. The road was mainly a winding path with hoof-prints in it, and now and then a faint trace of wheels on either side in the grass - wheels that apparently had a tire as broad as one's hand.

Presently a fair slip of a girl, about ten years old, with a cataract of golden hair streaming down over her shoulders, came along. Around her head she wore a hoop of flame-red poppies. It was as sweet an outfit as ever I saw, what there was of it. She walked indolently along, with a mind at rest, its peace reflected in her innocent face. The circus man paid no attention to her; didn't even seem to see her. And she - she was no more startled at his fantastic make-up than if she was used to his like every day of her life. She was going by as indifferently as she might have gone by a couple of cows; but when she happened to notice me, then there was a change! Up went her hands, and she was turned to stone; her mouth dropped open, her eyes stared wide and timorously, she was the picture of astonished curiosity touched with fear. And there she stood gazing, in a sort of stupefied fascination, till we turned a corner of the wood and were lost to her view. That she should be startled at me instead of at the other man, was too many for me; I couldn't make head or tail of it. And that she should seem to consider me a spectacle, and totally overlook her own merits in that respect, was another puzzling thing, and a display of magnanimity, too, that was surprising in one so young. There was food for thought here. I moved along as one in a dream.

As we approached the town, signs of life began to appear. At intervals we passed a wretched cabin, with a thatched roof, and about it small fields and garden patches in an indifferent state of cultivation. There were people, too; brawny men, with long, coarse, uncombed hair that hung down over their faces and made them look like animals. They and the women, as a rule, wore a coarse tow-linen robe that came well below the knee, and a rude sort of sandal, and many wore an iron collar. The small boys and girls were always naked; but nobody seemed to know it. All of these people stared at me, talked about me, ran into the huts and fetched out their families to gape at me; but nobody ever noticed that other fellow, except to make him humble salutation and get no response for their pains.

In the town were some substantial windowless houses of stone scattered among a wilderness of thatched cabins; the streets were mere crooked alleys, and unpaved; troops of dogs and nude children played in the sun and made life and noise; hogs roamed and rooted contentedly about, and one of them lay in a reeking wallow in the middle of the main thoroughfare and suckled her family. Presently there was a distant blare of military music; it came nearer, still nearer, and soon a noble cavalcade wound into view, glorious with plumed helmets and flashing mail and flaunting banners and rich doublets and horse-cloths and gilded spearheads; and through the muck and swine, and naked brats, and joyous dogs, and shabby huts, it took its gallant way, and in its wake we followed. Followed through one winding alley and then another - and climbing, always climbing - till at last we gained the breezy height where the huge castle stood. There was an exchange of bugle blasts; then a parley from the walls, where men-at-arms, in hauberk and morion, marched back and forth with halberd at shoulder under flapping banners with the rude figure of a dragon displayed upon them; and then the great gates were flung open, the drawbridge was lowered, and the head of the cavalcade swept forward under the frowning arches; and we, following, soon found ourselves in a great paved court, with towers and turrets stretching up into the blue air on all the four sides; and all about us the dismount was going on, and much greeting and ceremony, and running to and fro, and a gay display of moving and intermingling colors, and an altogether pleasant stir and noise and confusion.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: "A Land Without Chromos" ix
Preface xxix
A Word of Explanation xxxi
Chapter 1 Camelot 1
Chapter 2 King Arthur's Court 7
Chapter 3 Knights of the Table Round 17
Chapter 4 Sir Dinadan the Humorist 27
Chapter 5 An Inspiration 33
Chapter 6 The Eclipse 43
Chapter 7 Merlin's Tower 53
Chapter 8 The Boss 63
Chapter 9 The Tournament 73
Chapter 10 Beginnings of Civilization 83
Chapter 11 The Yankee in Search of Adventures 91
Chapter 12 Slow Torture 103
Chapter 13 Freemen! 113
Chapter 14 "Defend Thee, Lord!" 125
Chapter 15 Sandy's Tale 133
Chapter 16 Morgan le Fay 145
Chapter 17 A Royal Banquet 155
Chapter 18 In the Queen's Dungeons 169
Chapter 19 Knight Errantry as a Trade 183
Chapter 20 The Ogre's Castle 191
Chapter 21 The Pilgrims 201
Chapter 22 The Holy Fountain 217
Chapter 23 Restoration of the Fountain 231
Chapter 24 A Rival Magician 243
Chapter 25 A Competitive Examination 257
Chapter 26 The First Newspaper 273
Chapter 27 The Yankee and the King Travel Incognito 287
Chapter 28 Drilling the King 299
Chapter 29 The Small-Pox Hut 307
Chapter 30 The Tragedy of the Manor-House 317
Chapter 31 Marco 331
Chapter 32 Dowley's Humiliation 343
Chapter 33 Sixth Century Political Economy 355
Chapter 34 The Yankee and the King Sold as Slaves 371
Chapter 35 A Pitiful Incident 387
Chapter 36 An Encounter in the Dark 399
Chapter 37 An Awful Predicament 407
Chapter 38 Sir Launcelot and Knights to the Rescue 417
Chapter 39 The Yankee's Fight with the Knights 425
Chapter 40 Three Years Later 439
Chapter 41 The Interdict 451
Chapter 42 War! 459
Chapter 43 The Battle of the Sand Belt 475
Chapter 44 A Postscript by Clarence 493
Final P.S. By M.T. 497
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Reading Group Guide

1.  How does Hank Morgan change throughout the novel? Is this change for the better, or for worse? How does his speech reflect his change in attitude?

2.  The theme of the “mysterious stranger” (an outsider who enters a community or circle and enacts some kind of disruption) often appears in Twain’s works. How does Hank use his status as an “outsider” to his advantage? What does he bring from the outside that benefits sixth-century England? Into which world does Hank ultimately fit?

3.  What is Hank Morgan’s view of the Catholic church?

4.  Many critics consider A Connecticut Yankee to be Twain’s most flawed work because he simply wanted to do “too much.” Do you agree? If so, why?

5.  Consider the end of the novel. What statement does Twain make with this ending? Do you feel it is a fulfilling way to end the book?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 232 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(76)

4 Star

(49)

3 Star

(31)

2 Star

(11)

1 Star

(65)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 233 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 21, 2011

    Don't buy this version!

    A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is a superb book and I highly recommend you check it out, so you may be wondering why I am reviewing this as one star only. This version of the nook book is busted, in the middle of chapter 39 (XXXIX) it cuts to an entirely different book! If this is what Barnes and Nobles is going to let happen to the nook this device will fail horribly.

    22 out of 26 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 24, 2011

    Too much missing

    Too many pages are missing or unreadable to even follow the story.

    15 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2012

    Don't even bother

    This is a great book... when it's more than three pages of the book! Seriously, this is seven pages of unreadable BS. Thanks for taking up storage space, ripoff! I'd give it zero if I could.

    10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted February 15, 2012

    Would rate this 0 stars if available.

    Entire book consisted of 7 pages, beginning on page 304 of the original book, followed by 305, 384, and then the End.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted May 6, 2012

    Google Books version with numerous OCR errors

    This version is part of Google's initiative to digitize books. It clearly has been scanned and had OCR (optical character recognition) run to convert to digital text, with NO PROOFING of the scan, leaving numerous incorrect characters - typically several words per page with errors. Very distracting to read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted January 21, 2014

    Bad OCR

    Would love to read this sometime, but not this way.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2012

    what the

    there are 7 pages in this stupid file

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2012

    Superb!!

    Everthing but the ending is to die for!!!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted February 14, 2012

    Don't Read This Version

    There are just too many spelling mistakes in this version. I quit after only 2 pages. Hopefully you can find a better copy than this one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted February 10, 2012

    Phenominal read!

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It's full of the adventure of the middle-ages and keeps you on the edge of your seat. I highly recommend this wonderful book. Thank you, Mark Twain!!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted February 1, 2012

    horrible

    This book doesnt have the story it is only 7 pages long
    !!!!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2012

    Terable to onderstand

    Tarablely hard to read/understand

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted December 17, 2011

    Bad copy

    There are 2 actual pages of almost unreadable words. Whole story is not here.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 28, 2010

    Not a fan of social commentaries but had some redeeming qualities.

    Plodded through this ebook. Wanted to read it because it was a classic but in finishing it, I've decided I'm not a big fan of social commentaries. Definitely had several humorous moments though and witty one-liners.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2014

    File Does Not Load

    Hopefully this review is tied to the right file - the one with a portrait of Mark Twain.

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

    Posted May 16, 2014

    Bad Copy

    Too many typos and "strange" symbols.

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

    Posted April 19, 2014

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2014

    WILL ANYBODY TELL ME WHAT'SGOING ON ABOUT ALL THE CUSSING

    PPPPPPPPPPPLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSEEEEEEEEE SSSSSSSSTTTTTTTTTOOOOOOPPPPPPP CCCCCCCUUUUUUUSSSSSSSS SSSSSSSSSIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGGGGG_

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2014

    Unreadable

    Not worth the storage space.

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

    Posted January 3, 2014

    To anonymous on jan. 6

    Is there any way you're name is Erik Schroeder or if you know him? That sounds a lot like something he would post.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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