Kingwood College Library

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

by Mark Twain

(pseudonym of Samuel Clemens 1835 - 1910)
 

Samuel Clemens in 1880, Waisman, Scott, About Mark Twain, http://www.geocities.com/~samclemens, 1999. 

First Published:  1889 

Connecticut Yankee is the story of a 19th- century mechanic who travels back in time to the days of King Arthur.  With his prodigious memory and scientific acumen, he attempts to modernize medieval society.  As an example of early science fiction, it is the first to travel backward in time.

 The Story | Criticism | Journal Articles | Internet

Background

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court was written when Twain was in severe financial straits.  His self-made fortune had evaporated as his investments in the Paige Typesetting Machine and a publishing company failed.  He felt extremely guilty for causing his wife and daughters to know poverty.  He had begun the story a few years earlier after reading Mallory's Le Morte d'Arthur; he finished it to generate enough money to keep his family going.  His pessimism is intertwined with his humor.

Connecticut Yankee is written as a satire of the utopian days of King Arthur.  Broad strokes of violence that might offend today's readers were intended as burlesque humor.  The book has been variously classified as science fiction, humor, satire, and utopian literature.
 

Background on King Arthur
REF DA152.5 .A7 N48 Lacy, Norris N., ed. 
Arthurian Encyclopedia
Brief entries on Merlin, Arthur, Twain, etc.
DA152.5 .A7 A82 Ashe, Geoffrey 
Landscape of King Arthur
Photographs of the sites of King Arthur's adventures, physical descriptions, and the facts behind the legends
DA152.5 .A7 D39 Day, David 
The Search for King Arthur
Arthur's historical, mythical and literary origins, with pictures of related artwork
PR2047 .W49 Whitaker, Muriel. 
Arthur's Kingdom of Adventure
 
Videotape 
DA152 .L4
Legend of Arthur Examination of the history, mythology, religion and dreams that constitute the Arthurian legend.
REF PN44 .M33 v.2 Masterplots Summary of Morte D'Arthur on pp. 1083-1087

Characters

The Story

Hank Morgan, a resourceful mechanic and supervisor in the Colt Arms Factory, is knocked unconscious during an argument and awakens in Medieval England during the days of the Round Table.  He sees so many societal ills that he sets out to transform the country with nineteenth century mores and technology.  Throughout his adventure, he is beset by problems; by Merlin the Magician's jealousy; animosity from the Knights of the Round Table; and the ignorance and superstition of the people.  In the end, his technology is destroyed and Merlin casts a spell on Hank that leaves him sleeping for thirteen hundred years.  He reawakens in 19th century Connecticut.
 

Criticism

First, you need an idea.  What is being written on  A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court?
REFERENCE BOOKS
PN771 .G27 Twentieth Century Literary Criticism Vol. 4, 6, 12, 36, 48, 59 
Most info in vol. 36
PN3448 .S45 vol. 1 Survey of Science Fiction Literature Six page summary and appraisal
PS21 .M36 vol. 6 Magills Survey of American Literature Twain 1954-1958; 
Connecticut Yankee 1969-1971
PS129 .A55 vol. 4 American Writers Biography
PS221 .C8 vol. 3 Modern American Literature Excerpts from criticism
PS374 .S35 T89 Twentieth Century Science Fiction Writers Overview of Twain's science fiction
PS1330 .M37 Mark Twain Encyclopedia For identities and quick explanations
PN56 .U8 S66 Encyclopedia of Utopian Literature Includes entries for Connecticut Yankee, Twain,  Hank Morgan among others.
CIRCULATING BOOKS CONTAINING CRITICISM
PS1342 .H47 H64 Twain's heroes, Twain's worlds Inside Hank Morgan; 
A Yankee's World
PS1308 .A2 E57 A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court  Text, backgrounds and sources, composition and publication, criticism
PS374 .W35 L56 Writing After War Civil War and baseball in Connecticut Yankee
PS1342 .E85 S7 Mark Twain, Culture and Gender Sexual Politics
PS1338 .M27 Mark Twain : an anthology of recent criticism The electrical revolution
PS1342 .L5 B47 Mark Twain and Shakespeare : A cultural legacy Shakespeare's tragedies
PS1338 .M28 Mark Twain : a sumptuous variety Toward the absurd
PS1338 .O5 On Mark Twain The meaning of A Connecticut Yankee
PS1342 .S3 C86 Mark Twain and Science : adventures of a mind Warring views
PS1342 .H62 M36 Comedic Pathos ; black humor in Twain's fiction Let there be darkness

Journal Articles

Once you have an idea or two, you need to search for journal articles.  The best index to literature is MLA.  Ask the Reference Librarians for help. To locate the journal articles you want:

Search the Internet

for criticism and background information on Mark Twain and Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.



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3/28/2000