Ken Elser's Reviews > A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain
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Nov 16, 08

Read in November, 2008

Although a bit of a mish-mash of ideas and stories and not particularly coherent in its structure, A Connecticut Yankee is surely an intriguing social commentary about the limits of progress and a strong condemnation of human nature. Twain uses his fantastical tale of a 19th century New Englander become right-hand man to King Arthur in the 6th century to illustrate his cynacism at the idea of true human progress and civilization, showing it to be ultimately self-defeating and as cruel as the midevil world that he imagines. In Twain's conception, a human being can never overcome their inborn superstitions and prejudices, despite any apparent progress in this vein. A critical review contained in my copy finds fault with the fact that Twain simply observes these failures of human nature laughingly, deriding while offering no solution. The real height of arrogance, however, would surely be to offer the platidudes that any such "solution" would have to represent. In the end, Twain does what he does best: He holds a mirror up to society and our own natures, that we might nod (and perhaps chuckle in a spasm of morbid humor) at the terms of our own sentence.
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