A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

  • by Mark Twain
  • Narrated by William Dufris
  • 11 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is both a whimsical fantasy and a social satire chock-full of brilliant Twainisms. Hank Morgan, a 19th-century American - a Connecticut Yankee - by a stroke of fate is sent back into time to sixth-century England and ends up in Camelot and King Arthur's Court. Although of average intelligence, he finds himself with knowledge beyond any of those in the sixth century, and he uses it to become the king's right-hand man and to challenge Merlin as the court magician. Astounded at the way of life in Camelot, Hank does the only thing he can think of to do: change them. In his attempt to civilize medieval Camelot, he experiences many challenges and misadventures.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A Classic Yarn

When you pick up a Twain you know you'll get a good yarn. This is no exception. This is another book I read in my youth. I remember it more fondly that it appears to me now. I guess this goes to prove that tastes change and, in that sense, they mature.
It's still a good yarn. Not as funny as I remember it to be and more tragic, too. The satire is classic Twain. The wit sharp and, at times, quite brutal. The attack on the Dixie South slavery and serfdom is caustic, for example. The attack on the monarchy (more visceral than mocking) and hereditary privilege is relentless and, I felt, overdone. Perhaps that is because I don't need to be convinced. Another example is Hank Morgan's (aka Twain's) disdain of the Catholic Church. Ironically, Twain's criticism is almost religious. Similarly, his zeal for universeral sufferage is fanatical.
Through it all, there is no mistaking Twain's message. It might be written through the conceit of a Yankee who is struck on the head in the 1890s and wakes up in the 7th Century, but the opinions are still controversial in the 21st Century.
Stangely, I found the message less palatable in 2012 than I did in the 1980s, although I agee with most of Twain's views. Generally, I found it a bit forced for my modern sensibility.
From a performance point of view, William Dufris delivers his customary skilled performance. I particularly liked his Twain and his Sandy. However, there are not enough characters to allow him to shine.
Overall, I'm not sure I should have re-read this book. My memory of it was better, but that's no reflection on the production values or the performance. As a first time read, I think it would have scored better.
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- Ian C Robertson "Eclectic mixer of books of my youth and ones I always meant to read, but didn't."

Twain vs. Everything Un-American

Mark Twain's rapier wit vs. the ills of the un-American world both past and present in the guise of Medieval England. Representing the case for all things un-American is King Arthur himself as characterized in Sir Thomas Malory's La Morte d'Arthur. It's no spoiler to say that Arthur's Camelot is well and truly skewered at every conceivable turn.

One of the things great literature does is hold a mirror, both to the times in which it is written and to the times in which it is read. I went through this in the midst of the government shutdown of 2013, and it's fair to say that Twain points out pretty well exactly where the flaws in our own system have been exacerbated. I found myself laughing quite a bit, but there were more than a handful of uneasy chuckles as I realized how many of his words struck home in this day and age. You see, in 1889 when this was written, Britain was in the midst of its Victorian Age, and all that Imperialist expansionism implies. The US had barely left behind the Civil War a generation back, and the wounds were still fresh. Today, the US is feeling the economic and social repercussions of its own Imperial expansionism (even when we don't acknowledge it ourselves for what it is), so the double meaning through the mirror of modern times is rather apt and sobering. Social classes, slavery, unnecessarily complex language... it's all here, and so much more, fired at with both barrels in terms that only Twain could deliver. Chapter breaks only serve to allow him to reload.

William Dufris is an astounding narrator, coming across as though Twain himself were narrating this, mocking virtually every character encountered along the path. It's a performance you have to hear to believe.
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- Troy "Say something about yourself!"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-28-2010
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio