ros360 (ros360) wrote in bookish,

"Yankee in King Arthur's Court" by Mark Twain

Have finished A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain. I remember scouring the libraries in my childhood in search for it, as I expected the novel to be more fun than The Time Machine. Bu I was unlucky and suffered from it. Now it caught my eye, and I would warn you from ever letting your children read a fearful and hopeless book like this!

It starts very lively and with humor, especially the scene with Hank Morgan’s capture, when a knight “talked business”. An ordinary Colt worker might lack all these 19th c. technological skills to implement them in the 6th c. We may see it however as the author’s belief in progress and a perfect man in its outcome. You can find a hint to it in sarcasm towards the medieval society (occasional up to now).


Having demonstrated technical superiority over others, Hank or Boss implements colleges, military schools, telephone, press, builds factories, aims at democracy. His achievements are opposed to the feudal norms, when the privileged classes live at the cost of “freemen” and serfs and breed lies like knight-errantry (the hero undertakes one too with Sandy) or religious spell. You easily see reference to the author’s contemporary America and European monarchies.


By the by sarcasm starts to dominate and the progress pathos subsides. When does the belief on progress leave the author? Maybe when you see a knight with soap ads on his helmet? Or later, when enlightening simple craftsmen results in malicious chase and Boss sale as a serf.


The ending is depressive. Massacre at a knight tournament, tens of thousands corpses in the battle of Sand Belt are accompanied by Hank’s pathetic lies resembling the Americal Civil War or military conflicts that presaged antihuman World Wars of the 20th c. Words on Republic or democracy sound open cynicism when 54 persons fight for them against the whole nation.


The hero is morally crushed when transferred to the 19th c. He dies in tears over Sandy, but the real strike has come not from his beloved, but from the failure of his enlightening mission. He had to explode the factories with his own hand, the people never accepted the civilization he forced on them. Here comes another allegory, but I have to put it aside. How could Mark Twain predict the 21st c. event..

Tags: xxx author last name: r-z

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