In A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Mark Twain chronicles the experience of an engineer from the nineteenth century who goes back in time to King Arthur’s era in the sixth century. Hank Morgan, the protagonist, is bewildered at first to find himself in a strange land after taking a blow to the head. He is captured by a knight and taken to Camelot, where he makes the acquaintance of a page and learns that he is in the past. A series of events ensues, in which Morgan convinces everyone that he is a magician and secures a spot in the King’s administration for himself. Since he’s from the nineteenth century, he tries to modernize the sixth century to reflect his time period (which is probably easier for him than another person because he’s an engineer).
I found the beginning of the book to be a bit slow, but it started picking up near the middle. There are funny parts to it and other parts that made me mad at some of the characters. There are also sections that were excerpted from Le Morte D’Arthur, some of which I found difficult to read (the ones describing battles), and at times, Twain seems to be criticizing some aspects of the world he himself was living in, in the nineteenth century, like slavery. The ending was a bit ambiguous, but considering the nature of the story, I felt that it was appropriate.
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.
Jane Austen’s first novel follows Catherine Morland and her innocent and trustful nature. A satire on the Gothic novels popular at the time, Austen accurately and amusingly generalizes heroines, plots, and books in her narration. She also defends fiction (since at that time, reading novels could lead to negative judgment on a character reading them) quite eloquently and sensibly.
One of ten children and living in the country, Catherine has not seen much of the world. However, when her friends, Mr. and Mrs. Allen, head for Bath for Mr. Allen’s health, they invite her along. Upon reaching Bath, however, Catherine soon finds that she has no acquaintances there—which means, of course, that she’ll have to make some. Austen’s “heroine” lives through some scrapes during Bath and her visit to Northanger Abbey, some of which are the result of her newfound friends, others because Catherine, an avid fan of these Gothic novels, misinterprets some of her experiences at the Abbey.
Northanger Abbey is one of my favorite Austen books (along with Pride and Prejudice). Her friendship and conversations with the Tilneys provides very amusing reading, and her innocence in the face of almost (to me) obviously bad intentions on the part of some of the characters made her seem younger than seventeen (though her unearned trust of everyone can perhaps be explained away due to her never really been out in society before). In the end, though, Catherine does mature, as she is exposed to the truth about the behaviors of some people.
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.