'A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court'
By Mark Twain (Author)
In this classic satiric novel, published in 1889, Hank Morgan, a supervisor in a Connecticut gun factory, falls unconscious after being whacked on the head. When he wakes up he finds himself in Britain in 528 — where he is immediately captured, hauled back to Camelot to be exhibited before the knights of King Arthur's Round Table, and sentenced to death. Things are not looking good.
But Hank is a quick-witted and enterprising fellow, and in the process of saving his life he turns himself into a celebrity of the highest magnitude. His Yankee ingenuity and knowledge of the world beyond the Dark Ages are regarded as the most powerful sorcery — winning him a position of prime minister as well as the eternal enmity of a jealous Merlin. In an effort to bring democratic principles and mechanical knowledge to the kingdom, Hank introduces newspapers, telephones, bicycles, and other modern conveniences to the Britain of the Dark Ages. But when he tries to improve the lot of the common people, chaos and war result, giving a bittersweet tone to this comic masterpiece by one of America's greatest storytellers.
Gr 5 & Up-While Mark Twain is most often identified with his childhood home on the Mississippi, he wrote many of his enduring classics during the years he lived in Hartford, Connecticut. He had come a long way from Hannibal when he focused his irreverent humor on medieval tales, and wrote A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. The hit on the head that sent protagonist Hank Morgan back through 13 centuries did not affect his natural resourcefulness. Using his knowledge of an upcoming eclipse, Hank escapes a death sentence, and secures an important position at court. Gradually, he introduces 19th century technology so the clever Morgan soon has an easy life. That does not stop him from making disparaging, tongue-in-cheek remarks about the inequalities and imperfections of life in Camelot. Twain weaves many of the well-known Arthurian characters into his story, and he includes a pitched battle between Morgan's men and the nobility. Kenneth Jay's narration is a mix of good-natured bonhomie for Hank and more formal diction for the arcane Olde English speakers. Appropriate music is used throughout to indicate story breaks and add authenticity to scenes. This good quality recording is enhanced by useful liner notes and an attractive case. Younger listeners may need explanations of less familiar words, and some knowledge of the Knights of the Round Table will be helpful. Libraries completing an audiobook collection of Twain titles will enjoy this nice, but not necessary, abridgement.
(Barbara Wysocki, Cora J. Belden Library, Rocky Hill, CT)
"Twain is the funniest literary American writer. . . . [I]t must have been a great pleasure to be him."
Mark Twain, born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, was an American humorist and writer, who is best known for his enduring novels The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which has been called the Great American Novel. Raised in Hannibal, Missouri, Twain held a variety of jobs including typesetter, riverboat pilot, and miner before achieving nationwide attention for his work as a journalist with The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. He earned critical and popular praise for his wit and enjoyed a successful career as a public speaker in addition to his writing. Twain s works were remarkable for his ability to capture colloquial speech, although his adherence to the vernacular of the time has resulted in the suppression of his works by schools in modern times. Twain s birth in 1835 coincided with a visit by Halley s Comet, and Twain predicted, accurately, that he would go out with it as well, dying the day following the comet s return in 1910.