Accessible world’sSpecial program Series Presents Ira Fistelle Discussing A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court

If you were suddenly transported to an earlier time and place, how would you cope? Would you be curious about life then and decide there was nothing you could do and accept your circumstances? In a time travel experience like no other, that is what happens to Hank Morgan. After receiving a blow on the head, he embarks upon a time travel journey he could never have imagined in his wildest fantasy. Part, satire, alternate history, science fiction and humor too, this is Mark Twain at his best. Following the success of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was a huge undertaking, but Twain combined the above elements and ends by telling quite a tale.
What is Hank’s place in this society? How much should he contribute? ? Will he be accepted with all his strange clothes, manners, speech, and abilities? After all, for him this is truly a whole new world. What talents or knowledge can he share? Of what benefit is a future for people who have no need for it? Surprises abound. He gets a new lease on life and decides to make of this new opportunity a better life for everyone he can. With more adventures and misunderstandings to come, Morgan takes us on a trip to a time of daring deeds and great accomplishments. Is this a tale only, or is Mark Twain, the philosopher, saying something important about progress, technology, and the economy, slavery, and religion?

Join Ira Fistelle, noted teacher and radio talk show host as he leads a discussion of a book that will keep you on the edge of your seats. As Hank makes choices and accepts new opportunities, ask yourself, “What would I do if this happened to me?” With Ira, you will gain in knowledge and fun as he explores and explains this novel.

Below, you will find some additional information about the plot. The Nls information will follow. If you prefer, A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court can be found on Bookshare.org.

A Connecticut Yankee derives its brilliance, its humor and its themes from one source: a juxtaposition of times and its attendant values. Just as the mythic King Arthur embodies his age, the age of romantic chivalry, Hank Morgan is a type figure of the nineteenth century man‹ "nearly barren of sentiment," freedom minded, shrewd and technocratic. Within this context several topics and themes recur:
The Church

Twain's Yankee's greatest fear and ultimate enemy is the Roman Catholic Church, which to him embodies the evils of manipulating religion for political purposes. He states that "the established church is only a political machine," bereft of the spiritual functions that it purports to serve. Hank accuses the church for shoring up the ills of the sixth century society: superstition; hereditary nobility; social inequality; the meek subservience of the masses to authority and tradition.

Slavery‹Slavery appears prominently in the work as a social ill that Hank seeks to abolish. The scenes Twain writes about the oppression and dehumanization of slaves are drawn largely from Russian and German sources, but also share its universal points with slavery in the United States. Hank and King Arthur become slaves themselves and are made empathetic to the plights of slaves; Twain uses their story as a condemnation of those who can claim the morality of a matter only on a superficial level, but who cannot move to action unless prodded by real experience.

Merlin (magician) v. Hank (technocrat)

In the book, Merlin represents superstition, bogus magic and the old order while Hank is the banner-bearer of "the magic of science," of civilization and progress. Their constant rivalry is the embodiment of the larger social project that Hank is trying to achieve in making England into an industrialized nation. But in proclaiming the eclipse and in the restoration of the Holy Fountain, Hank uses the same reliance on superstition that Merlin does against him. Hank's 'industrial miracles' can be just as manipulative as Merlin's smoke-and-mirrors hoaxes. Although Merlin appears to be soundly defeated each time he challenges Hank's authority, he gets the last laugh as Hank's civilization destroys itself.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Twain, Mark. Read by Rick Foucheux. Reading time 12 hours 27 minutes.
Classics
Classic satire about a nineteenth-century New England factory worker who is
knocked unconscious and transported back to the year 528. Hank Morgan
awakens in King Arthur's court in Britain, where he attempts to improve
living conditions by introducing modern inventions and democratic ideas. For
senior high and older readers. 1889.
Download A Connecticut Yankee in
King Arthur's Court, DB52560

Presenter: Ira Fistell

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