Friday, June 29, 2012

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain


    Sorry about slipping off the radar again. Too many things happening all at once and I couldn’t settle down to reading or writing. Nothing tragic or terrible, just one of those weird times when your mind seems to have switched off. I am so behind on all my challenges but I think I can still catch up. Anyways, it’s supposed to be fun right? So I’m not going to pile any pressure on myself.  

   I managed to finish Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court although it has taken me over a month to do so. Let this not put you off the book though. The delay was entirely due to the crazy time I've been having and nothing to do with the book’s length or quality. In fact, I would very much like to go back and re-read this when life is a little less hectic.

    I have read and reviewed Mark Twain’s short stories here and they are the reason I chose A Connecticut Yankee... as one of my Classic’s Challenge reads. I expected it to be a crazy, hilarious book and it is, but it is also so much more than that.  It is insightful, thought-provoking and sometimes quite grim too.

    The title pretty much summarizes the book for you. Hank Morgan is a resourceful and enterprising Yankee from the 19th century.  After a head injury, he wakes up in 6th century Camelot which is not quite the romantic and ethereal land we imagine it to be.  He is almost burned at the stake for being peculiar but Hank can think on his feet pretty sharp. Not only does he manage to escape a brutal death, he takes over the mantle of Head Magician from a disgruntled Merlin.  Hank, or The Boss, as he is now known, sets about improving and modernizing Camelot without rousing suspicion or alarm. But he finds that the general populace have immense respect for hocus pocus and very little for human rights.

    This book reminded me a bit of Twain’s Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven story which I’ve reviewed here. Not that the plots are similar but they both have an absurd, fantastical central idea which Twain uses to make a point about religion and society. A Connecticut Yankee... rips off the rose tinted glasses with which we view the past and shows us the ugly reality of an un-evolved society where brutality is passed off as gallantry. Having said all that, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court is also a really fun read.