A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
The novel explains the tale of Hank Morgan, a 19th-century resident of Hartford, Connecticut who, after a blow to the head, awakens to find himself inexplicably transported back in time to early medieval England at the time of the legendary King Arthur.
The story begins first person narrative in Warwick Castle, where a man details his recollection of a tale told to by an "interested stranger" who is personified as a knight through his simple language and familiarity with ancient armor. After a brief tale of Sir Launcelot of Camelot and his role in slaying two giants from the third-person narrative, the man named Hank Morgan enters and, after being given whiskey by the narrator, he is persuaded to reveal more of his story. Described through first-person narrative as a man familiar with the firearms and machinery trade, Hank is a man who had reached the level of superintendent due to his proficiency in firearms manufacturing, with two thousand subordinates. He describes the beginning of his tale by illustrating details of a disagreement with his subordinates, during which he sustained a head injury from a "crusher" to the head caused by a man named "Hercules" using a crowbar. After passing out from the blow, Hank describes waking up underneath an oak tree in a rural area of Camelot where a knight questions him for trepassing upon his land, and after establishing rapport, leads him towards Camelot castle. Upon recognizing that he has time-traveled to the sixth century, Hank realizes that he is the de facto smartest person on Earth, and with his knowledge he should soon be running things.
Hank is ridiculed at King Arthur's court for his strange appearance and dress and is sentenced by King Arthur's court (particularly the magician Merlin) to burn at the stake on 22 June. By a stroke of luck, the date of the burning coincides with a historical solar eclipse in the year 528, of which Hank had learned in his earlier life. While in prison, he sends the boy Clarence to inform the King that he will blot out the sun if he is executed. Hank believes the current date to be 20 June; however, it is actually the 21st when he makes his threat, the day that the eclipse will occur at 12:03 p.m. When the King decides to burn him, the eclipse catches Hank by surprise. But he quickly uses it to his advantage and convinces the people that he caused the eclipse. He makes a bargain with the King, is released, and becomes the second most powerful person in the kingdom.
Hank is given the position of principal minister to the King and is treated by all with the utmost fear and awe. His celebrity brings him to be known by a new title, elected by the people — "The Boss". However, he proclaims that his only income will be taken as a percentage of any increase in the kingdom's gross national product that he succeeds in creating for the state as Arthur's chief minister, which King Arthur sees as fair. Notwithstanding, the people fear him and he has his new title, Hank is still seen as somewhat of an equal. The people might grovel to him if he were a knight or some form of nobility, but without that, Hank faces problems from time to time, as he refuses to seek to join such ranks.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910), better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. He is most noted for his novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), the latter often called "the Great American Novel."
Twain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which would later provide the setting for Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. He apprenticed with a printer. He also worked as a typesetter and contributed articles to his older brother Orion's newspaper. After toiling as a printer in various cities, he became a master riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River, before heading west to join Orion. He was a failure at gold mining, so he next turned to journalism. While a reporter, he wrote a humorous story, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, which became very popular and brought nationwide attention. His travelogues were also well-received. Twain had found his calling.
He achieved great success as a writer and public speaker. His wit and satire earned praise from critics and peers, and he was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty.
He lacked financial acumen, and, though he made a great deal of money from his writings and lectures, he squandered it on various ventures, in particular the Paige Compositor, and was forced to declare bankruptcy. With the help of Henry Huttleston Rogers he eventually overcame his financial troubles. Twain worked hard to ensure that all of his creditors were paid in full, even though his bankruptcy had relieved him of the legal responsibility.
Twain was born during a visit by Halley's Comet, and predicted that he would "go out with it" as well. He died the day following the comet's subsequent return. He was lauded as the "greatest American humorist of his age," and William Faulkner called Twain "the father of American literature."
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