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

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


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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781566197069
Publisher: Sterling Publishing
Publication date: 08/15/1995
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Pages: 307
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

About the Author

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910), best known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an author and humorist noted for the novels The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (which has been called "The Great American Novel") and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, among many other books. Twain was raised in Hannibal, Missouri, which later provided the setting for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, and he spent time as a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River before finding fame as a writer.

Date of Birth:

November 30, 1835

Date of Death:

April 21, 1910

Place of Birth:

Florida, Missouri

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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 353 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
AmeliaAT More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is good after you get past the photo copies but its anoying that google is thrown in everywhere in the book
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
NataliaAbramova More than 1 year ago
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. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There are some missed spelled words and the paragraphs are jumblled up but it us really good. By the way im 11.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
kamas716 More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Biting satire, and most un-funny when you realize Twain's observations of human character (via The Boss) are spot on. I found it a bit tedious muddling through the language but perservered, since the wodiness was intentional--a vital part of Twain's sendup. There were amusing parts, but the message is dead serious...and the grim finale is not for the faint of heart. Pure genius!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very poor edition.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too short
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Way to boring!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No surprises with Mark Twain as he continually dazzled and entertained me with his non-stop action, wild, color characters. Coupled with healthy doses of dry and sometimes, caustic old-fashioned sense of humor, I hung onto his every word as if it were the first time I had read this book. I can never get enough of Mark Twain.
SuperBeanDip More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous 11 months ago
Very entertaining. And an interesting commentary on several different aspects of life today.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The jokes are 100+ years old but still hold up. There are episodes that drag, but it is a fun read.
sgerbic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A delightful humorous account of time travel by Mark Twain. Reading a work from the 1880's by an author writing in the "style" of England in the 6th Century was at times difficult to understand. Twain's humor shielded in serious dialog made it even more difficult. But nonetheless I did enjoy reading Twain's views on slavery, economy, health, chivalry, and religion from eyes that had just seen the bloody American Civil War. The accounts of his character hank's interactions of slavery were heart wrenching as well as the stories of poverty, illness and injustice. Twain's goal in this work was to ridicule chivalry, some say because of Southern attitudes towards chivalry during the war. I expected many great quotes, but only this one stood out, "My acquaintance smiled - not a modern smile, but one that must have gone out of general use many, many centuries ago." (p, 16) And one more, Hank has just met Clarance who informs hank he is a page, "Go 'long, I said; "you ain't more than a paragraph." (p.28)01-2010
mojacobs on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I picked up this book in a second hand shop, because I was curious what Twain would have made of this nice idea: a technically well educated 19th century man in the court of Arthur. I did not expect too much, and I was right to: the story is secondary to the political messages in this book, and the story is not very interesting. I read a lot of it diagonally - the book is very slow in places. A bit disappointing, and I wonder if this will stay a "classic" - I think it might quietly disappear in the mists of time.¿
InfoTechHS on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It was short and funny.
FredB on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mark Twain's classic tale of culture clash. The narrator was great.