Item description for A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain...
Twain, Mark "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" in the revolutionary Bed Book Landscape Reading Format - a new approach to reading in bed as well as other places people enjoy reading while lying down, such as the beach, or on a grassy lawn in the park. Bed Books provide the freedom to lie in any comfortable position without being obligated to sit up in order to read. They can be an essential aid for readers who may be prone to back and neck strain when assuming the contorted body positions normally required for reading while lying down, and for those who have previously found it difficult or impossible to read books in bed, such as the elderly and the disabled. Bed Books can also be read sitting up as easily as with a conventional book. See the current Bed Book Catalog at: www.bedbooks.NET www.readinginbed.com
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.2" Width: 5.7" Height: 0.8" Weight: 0.8 lbs.
Release Date Nov 7, 2005
Publisher A Bed Book
ISBN 1933652322 ISBN13 9781933652320
Availability 0 units.
More About Mark Twain
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." Michael Meyer, Ph.D., professor emeritus of English at the University of Connecticut, is a former president of the Thoreau Society and the coauthor of The New Thoreau Handbook, a standard reference. His first book, Several More Lives to Live: Thoreau's Political Reputation in America, was awarded the Ralph henry Gabriel Prize by the American Studies Association. In addition to The Bedford Introduction to Literature, his edited volumes include Frederick Douglas: The Narrative and Selected Writings. Leslie A. Fielder (1917-2003) was a longtime professor of English at Montana State University and then the Samuel Langhorne Clemens Professor of Literature at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He was the author of four novels, as well as many influential works of criticism including Life and Death in the American Novel and What Was Literature? Class Culture and Mass Society. Among his many awards is the Modern Language Association's Hubbell Medal for lifetime contribution to the study of American literature.
Mark Twain lived in Hannibal, in the state of Missouri. Mark Twain was born in 1835 and died in 1910.
Mark Twain has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court?
Anti-Catholic polemic dressed up as a classic Aug 2, 2008
I have always loved Mark Twain since reading Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer as a kid. At one point I had even memorized "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" as a seventh-grader in Catholic school. Twain has always held a sentimental place close to my heart, so when our book club chose to read and discuss A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, I was all for it.
I had heard vaguely of Twain's atheist mindset and his antagonism toward religion in general. But until I read Connecticut Yankee, I had no idea how much irrational and unfounded antipathy Twain had for the Catholic Church in particular. The pervasive theme in Connecticut Yankee is that our modern enlightened world is far superior to that which went before and that the "bad old days" of slavery and oppression were almost completely the fault of the Catholic Church. This anti-Catholic sentiment can hardly be denied as Twain himself urged reviewers not to mention it when the book first came out. "Please don't let on that there are any slurs at the Church," he told a sympathetic reviewer in the Boston Herald. "I want to catch the reader unawares, and modify his views if I can."
So Twain engaged in what we know today as the "last acceptable prejudice." By way of a simple comparison, let us imagine that, instead of Catholics, Twain had chosen Jews, Mormons, or Evangelicals as the villains of Connecticut Yankee. Would it still occupy the exalted position it does as an American classic? Or would it be relegated to those dusty shelves where reside other scurrilous works or racist manifestos to be studied as a historical curiosity of a meaner age?
For me, the most annoying aspect of Connecticut Yankee was Twain's almost total ignorance of history--or, perhaps more accurately, his decision to turn history on its head to better fit his polemical aims of blaming all the ills of society on the Catholic Church. This is a classic example of what happens, I suppose, when a journalist with a wide breadth of knowledge but no depth attempts to novelize about a historical subject. To address some of Twain's errors:
1.) Slavery in antiquity was in no way the fault of the Church. That pernicious institution long predated Christianity and was endemic to classical pagan societies. Indeed, the Church has a long history of making the lot of slaves more tolerable and being among the premier abolitionist institutions in the world.
2.) The idea that the Church suppresses intellectual freedom is a fable made up during the Protestant rebellion, though it is heartily embraced by Twain. Far more erudite scholars than I have examined this fallacy in detail, so rather than address this topic in detail here, I would point the reader to Tom Woods's excellent book, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization.
3.) Twain writes naively of democracy, putting in Hank Morgan's mouth the notion that "Where every man in a state has a vote, brutal laws are impossible." One wonders what Twain would have made of our modern America, where not only every man, but every woman has a vote, and yet the ghastly practice of abortion is not only legal, but enshrined as a human right. Democracy of itself does not ensure enlightened government. Without the temper of religion, democracy is as likely to produce brutal and repulsive laws as the worst monarchy. De Tocqueville understood this. It's a wonder that Twain did not.
There are many more, but this review is already more prolix that I had intended.
As always, Twain's writing sparkles in Connecticut Yankee and his lampooning of the style of Mallory is very funny. His characters, however, viewed 120 years later, are crudely drawn. Hank Morgan is an Alger-esque self-made man whose compendious knowledge of all subjects is just a little too convenient. The legendary Arthurians are all soulless pawns that Twain moves around to further his polemic. No insight is offered into their characters at all. They are all cruel and completely self-serving--as they must be in Twain's mind because they belong to the aristocracy. The story ends on a bizarrely depressing note for a tale that was predominantly a humorous satire for the first seven-eighths of its length.
In short, this is not a book I will be reading to my kids as a bedtime story. For me, it is to be considered a shameful period piece, written at a time when it was acceptable and even laudatory to be a Know-Nothing and make up slanders about the Catholic Church. That it is a cleverly-written slander is only another mark against it. Amusing slanders are pleasing to read but have the potential to do real harm both to the target and the reader.
Love Twain's writing, but not so much in this one Jun 30, 2008
Although I usually enjoy Twain's writing style, and his sense of wry humor, there was something about A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court that was less than satisfying.
Some of the situations that the protagonist gets himself into are "classic" Twain. When the narrator is transported back to the time of Camelot, he begins to speculate about rituals, customs and general style of life. There is one part where the townspeople are convinced that he can perform great magical feats (he actually has Merlin as his rival), and when they corner him about performing one, he has to think of a way to please them or face punishment. He realizes that he can remember when an eclipse is going to come, and there is the way out of his situation. There are many adventures, where the narrator becomes critical of their ways, as a time warp will do. He is a fish out of water in many ways in this new world, not understanding, for instance, their need to have extravagant adventures: "Hardly a month went by without one of these tramps arriving; and generally loaded with some tale about some princess or other wanting help to get her out of some faraway castle where she was being held in captivity by a lawless scoundrel..." Because of his ability to perform great acts, he becomes known as the Boss, and helps to free some poor peasants from terrible punishments.
Maybe what made this less of a story was that it became too "preachy" and filled with social commentary. Although this is what usually makes Twain's novels, here it seemed to detract from the over all story. I was much more interested in hearing about the next adventure, but the narrator continued to rattle on and on about what he felt was wrong with this society. You get the feeling that Twain, not the narrator, is speaking after awhile. In the end, I guess it wasn't really the book I expected it to be. Still, it has its moments, and there are some parts that will have you chuckling to yourself as you read.
I consider Twain to be one of my favorite authors, but this is one of his lesser achievements.
Promising premise, disappointing and remarkably dour delivery Mar 16, 2008
Twain spoils a promising premise with bloated preachifying, colorless prose, and an uneven, nigh-absurdist plot arc.
Always Feb 26, 2008
I have always received the best service when I have placed an order from you. Outstanding!!!!!
Hilarious, yet meaningful Nov 28, 2007
With each Twain novel I read, I am amazed at how he can be so funny while packing such astute insights about life. This novel is no exception as Twain strikes the balance between the two again here. The premise for this novel is perhaps Twain's most original idea (when did Tom Sawyer ever time travel?) and the story and characters satisify at every turn. While this isn't Twain's best work, I think that some of his funniest moments are in this novel. I recommend Tom Sawyer as the place to begin reading Twain, but if you are already a fan then this book is a must-read.