A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur's Court

Absurdism, Society, Violence


A Connecticut Yankee, like others among Mark Twain's works, started out as an amusing idea – the Yankee who wakes up to find himself in sixth-century England – and, while never quite losing its comic character, turner into something deeper and darker. Hank Morgan sets out to introduce 'the great and beneficent civilization of the nineteenth century', and upon Olde England is, in Justin Kaplan, 'an extravagant, savagely conflictive book, at the same time an entertainment and a dark, anarchic fable, a comic romance and a work of social criticism', the product of Twain's own cruelly divided attitude. In scenes of rich comedy and unnerving violence, ancient and modern stalk each other through the course of the book, until they meet in a last battle only to destroy each other in what has been described as 'one of the most distressing passages in American literature'. One might say, in any literature.