Review of A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain

February 9, 2008
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

LibriVoxA Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court
By Mark Twain; Read by Steve Anderson
45 Zipped MP3 files or Podcast – 13 Hours 43 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Librivox.org
Publshed: 2006
Themes: / Fantasy / Time Travel / Satire /

“This is the first book I recorded for LibriVox. As is the first recording, it is a bit rough in places, but I am happy with it, it is certainly enjoyable listening, if you are not me; and you are not. The Yankee is a long time favorite of mine, though some might be surprised to know that. I encourage you to download and listen, it’s free. Give copies to your friends.” – Narrator, Steve Anderson

In the opening chapters of A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court, Mark Twain magically transports the titular Yankee, Hank Morgan, into the mythical world of King Arthur and sets him up to be burned at the stake, then lets Hank weasel his way out with his modern knowledge. The plot is nothing more than a constant rehash of this same type of set-up and escape, but the character is what is most memorable about the book. Twain has a talent for making his characters simultaneously over-the-top and real, creating a person both exasperating and fascinating. Hank, as “The Boss”, is constantly making grand plans and trying to convince his medieval compatriots to adopt a late 19th century lifestyle.

Apart from the unforgettable characters, the other hallmark of Twain’s works is his misanthropy. Toward the end, the sarcasm becomes a bit too harsh to be enjoyable as Twain’s love for persons individually begins to be outweighed by his distaste for people in general. Before this vitriol starts to take effect, though, Twain gently but effectively ridicules organized religion, politics, advertising, personal hygiene, war, and, of course, the Arthurian legend. It helps if you have tried to read (and, perhaps, failed to finish) Mallory’s Le Morte D’Arthur, but anyone familiar with chivalrous tales of knights in shining armor is bound to get the joke.

Librivox volunteer Steve Anderson’s reading is full of enthusiasm. He lends just the right amount of sarcasm to his telling and makes Hank’s story come alive with wit. Anderson doesn’t “do voices” for other characters very often, which since the story is told as a 1st person narrative, is just fine. There’s a bit of background hum and the louder tones are cut off, giving the voice a tinny character at times. The sound quality, however, should not distract most people from Twain’s excellent story or the reader’s infectious love of the book.

Here is the podcast feed for the audiobook:

http://librivox.org/bookfeeds/a-connecticut-yankee-in-king-arthurs-court-by-mark-twain.xml

Posted by Listener of the Free Listens blog

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