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ConnieAnnKirk
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Chapters 1-10

For discussion of Chapters 1-10. For the benefit of those who would like to discuss their reading as they go along, please avoid posting information beyond Chapter 10, "Beginnings of Civilization."
~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
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bentley
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Re: Chapters 1-10 (PREFACE - SPOILER)


ConnieK wrote:
For discussion of Chapters 1-10. For the benefit of those who would like to discuss their reading as they go along, please avoid posting information beyond Chapter 10, "Beginnings of Civilization."




I love the way Twain starts with something so "big" and makes it out to be something inconsequential to the reader (but difficult); and might be something he might tackle next winter when he is not doing anything:

"The question as to whether there is such a thing as divine right of kings is not settled in this book. It was found too difficult."
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ConnieAnnKirk
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Re: Chapters 1-10 (PREFACE - SPOILER)

Indeed. You can almost hear Twain talking in these books--such a natural storytelling tone. :smileywink:

~ConnieK



bentley wrote:
I love the way Twain starts with something so "big" and makes it out to be something inconsequential to the reader (but difficult); and might be something he might tackle next winter when he is not doing anything:

"The question as to whether there is such a thing as divine right of kings is not settled in this book. It was found too difficult."


~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
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bentley
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Re: Chapters 1-10 (Chapter 1 and 2) SPOILER

[ Edited ]
SPOILER

Please do not read further if you have not completed Chapters I, II.

I guess we can assume that the stranger had been taken prisoner sometime during King Arthur's time period (by Sir Kay the Seneschal) and this time traveling had something to do with the blow on the head received from Hercules at the arms factory in 1879 while the stranger was working somewhere in Connecticut?

The stranger then gets a glimpse of the time period he is in after wondering if all of these folks are from some asylum. I can assume from what just occurred that this time traveling was not voluntarily taking place and the stranger had no free will or choice in his travels unlike what took place in the book "The Time Machine" which occurred and was published later where the main character could come and go at will.

Also, I guess we now enter a dichotomy in time (it is both 1879 and June 19, 528) when the stranger was captured/hit in the head; although it is 10 years later at the time he is relating the story.

....about myself and about my clothes, but never waited for an answer—always chattered straight ahead, as if he didn't know he had asked a question and wasn't expecting any reply, until at last he happened to mention that he was born in the beginning of the year 513.

It made the cold chills creep over me? I stopped and said, a little faintly:

"Maybe I didn't hear you just right? Say it again—and say it slow. What year was it?"

"513."

"513! You don't look it! Come, my boy, I am a stranger and friendless; be honest and honorable with me. Are you in your right mind?"

He said he was.

"Are these other people in their right minds?"

He said they were.

"And this isn't an asylum? I mean, it isn't a place where they cure crazy people?"

He said it wasn't.

"Well, then," I said, "either I am a lunatic, or something just as awful has happened. Now tell me, honest and true, where am I?"

"IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT."

I waited a minute, to let that idea shudder its way home, and then said:

"And according to your notions, what year is it now?"

"528—nineteenth of June."


Message Edited by bentley on 10-30-2007 01:52 PM
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thinker
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Re: Chapters 1-10 (Chapter 1 and 2) SPOILER

its ok Bentley, its not a spoiler, thats only if you go beyond chapter 10
Gee, you're really getting into the story!!

We get a bit of suspense at chapter 5 "An Inspiration"

I wait for you to catch up!!

Hmm... theres only a ten year difference, well what do you think of the stranger at the castle at the beginning!
Thinker
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bentley
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Re: Chapters 1-10 (Chapter 1 and 2) SPOILER



thinker wrote:
its ok Bentley, its not a spoiler, thats only if you go beyond chapter 10
Gee, you're really getting into the story!!

We get a bit of suspense at chapter 5 "An Inspiration"

I wait for you to catch up!!

Hmm... theres only a ten year difference, well what do you think of the stranger at the castle at the beginning!




Hello Thinker,

Didn't want to spoil it for anybody reading it for the first time like I was so I always put a spoiler in indicating what chapter I am on.

I think we know the date in Camelot and the accompanying date in Connecticut when he was hit on the head but then in the preface signed by Mark Twain was the following.

MARK TWAIN
HARTFORD, July 21, 1889

which would have been about 10 years later when supposedly the story was put together.

That is all I know so far. Will get to Chapter Five and tell you what I think. If anybody has any other ideas, feel free to explain..just taking it a little bit at a time as I am reading and trying to establish some kind of timeline (since we are really in two time periods simultaneously "I think" because of the blow on the head). I don't see it as physical time travel even though he visualizes his body there.
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bentley
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Re: Chapters 1-10 (Chapter 5 ) SPOILER

Thinker,

I just finished chapter five and thought he was absolutely brilliant. He is standing there naked waiting to be killed the next day and he has found a way to use his knowledge of when the eclipse will take place to scare the bejeezus out of the king and all of his followers. Poor Clarence seems to faint dead away at this news of what the calamity will be.

To me magic, superstition and folks like Merlin ruled the courts in the background through fear. He has found a way to save himself in this fabricated world of his even though he could not physically escape his cell. I am wondering if his mind because of the blow was captured inside and could not escape or function and that was the cell he conjured in his mind. Not sure yet.
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bentley
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Re: Chapters 1-10 (Chapter 6 ) SPOILER

Thinker, I read the next chapter and was amazed how he survived at all with the likes of Clarence..thank god the eclipse was scheduled for that day because Clarence in trying to help almost caused his death and demise. I have to say that he was a very quick thinker. The eclipse and his knowledge of that eclipse really saved him; but he really did look down on these people and I believe felt that he was superior in every way.
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bentley
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Re: Chapters 1-10 (Chapter 8 ) SPOILER

[ Edited ]
He seems to have done in Merlin for now with his trickery and then seems to settle into the 6th century:

After that, I was just as much at home in that century as I could have been in any other; and as for preference, I wouldn't have traded it for the twentieth. Look at the opportunities here for a man of knowledge, brains, pluck, and enterprise to sail in and grow up with the country. The grandest field that ever was; and all my own; not a competitor; not a man who wasn't a baby to me in acquirements and capacities; whereas, what would I amount to in the twentieth century? I should be foreman of a factory, that is about all; and could drag a seine down street any day and catch a hundred better men than myself.

He thinks of himself even more powerful than the king in many ways and now complains about the Church (another part of Twain's satire). This was a thorn in his side. Will finish up through Chapter 10 for now.

He misses his coffee, tea, tobacco, soap, pictures, pretty much everything he had back in Connecticut but he seems to like that he is the big cheese here.

Message Edited by bentley on 10-31-2007 09:50 PM
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bentley
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Re: Chapters 1-10 (Chapter 8 ) SPOILER

The following paragraph puzzled me and I was wondering if others had any ideas.

What a jump I had made! I couldn't keep from thinking about it, and contemplating it, just as one does who has struck oil. There was nothing back of me that could approach it, unless it might be Joseph's case; and Joseph's only approached it, it didn't equal it, quite. For it stands to reason that as Joseph's splendid financial ingenuities advantaged nobody but the king, the general public must have regarded him with a good deal of disfavor, whereas I had done my entire public a kindness in sparing the sun, and was popular by reason of it.

I was no shadow of a king; I was the substance; the king himself was the shadow. My power was colossal; and it was not a mere name, as such things have generally been, it was the genuine article. I stood here, at the very spring and source of the second great period of the world's history; and could see the trickling stream of that history gather and deepen and broaden, and roll its mighty tides down the far centuries; and I could note the upspringing of adventurers like myself in the shelter of its long array of thrones: De Montforts, Gavestons, Mortimers, Villierses; the war-making, campaign-directing wantons of France, and Charles the Second's scepter-wielding drabs; but nowhere in the procession was my full-sized fellow visible. I was a Unique; and glad to know that that fact could not be dislodged or challenged for thirteen centuries and a half, for sure. Yes, in power I was equal to the king. At the same time there was another power that was a trifle stronger than both of us put together. That was the Church. I do not wish to disguise that fact. I couldn't, if I wanted to. But never mind about that, now; it will show up, in its proper place, later on. It didn't cause me any trouble in the beginning—at least any of consequence.


Who is the Joseph he is referring to? He now thinks he is bigger than the king and calls himself a "Unique". What was Twain's opinion of the church and of religion itself?
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Re: Chapters 1-10 (Chapter 8 ) SPOILER

Chapter 8 is really something. Twain is comparing the citizens to rabbits and seems to have quite a lot of disdain for monarchs in general and about the British.

Well, it was a curious country, and full of interest. And the people! They were the quaintest and simplest and trustingest race; why, they were nothing but rabbits. It was pitiful for a person born in a wholesome free atmosphere to listen to their humble and hearty outpourings of loyalty toward their king and Church and nobility; as if they had any more occasion to love and honor king and Church and noble than a slave has to love and honor the lash, or a dog has to love and honor the stranger that kicks him! Why, dear me, any kind of royalty, howsoever modified, any kind of aristocracy, howsoever pruned, is rightly an insult; but if you are born and brought up under that sort of arrangement you probably never find it out for yourself, and don't believe it when somebody else tells you. It is enough to make a body ashamed of his race to think of the sort of froth that has always occupied its thrones without shadow of right or reason, and the seventh-rate people that have always figured as its aristocracies—a company of monarchs and nobles who, as a rule, would have achieved only poverty and obscurity if left, like their betters, to their own exertions.

The most of King Arthur's British nation were slaves, pure and simple, and bore that name, and wore the iron collar on their necks; and the rest were slaves in fact, but without the name; they imagined themselves men and freemen, and called themselves so. The truth was, the nation as a body was in the world for one object, and one only: to grovel before king and Church and noble; to slave for them, sweat blood for them, starve that they might be fed, work that they might play, drink misery to the dregs that they might be happy, go naked that they might wear silks and jewels, pay taxes that they might be spared from paying them, be familiar all their lives with the degrading language and postures of adulation that they might walk in pride and think themselves the gods of this world. And for all this, the thanks they got were cuffs and contempt; and so poor-spirited were they that they took even this sort of attention as an honor.


Was there a political reason for Twain to write this work? Curious as to the background of this book, etc.
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Re: Chapters 1-10 (Chapter 8 ) SPOILER

[ Edited ]
I am surprised that he turned down a title and was comfortable with the title of Boss when he knew how they viewed him. It is obvious that Twain is using him as his own mouthpiece about religion, etc. and it was interesting reading his interpretation of how they viewed him. Being part of an organized religon myself, I was really struck by the ferocity with which he speaks about the church and its influence.

The quote below was surprising to me in many ways:

Well, to the king, the nobles, and all the nation, down to the very slaves and tramps, I was just that kind of an elephant, and nothing more.

I was admired, also feared; but it was as an animal is admired and feared. The animal is not reverenced, neither was I; I was not even respected. I had no pedigree, no inherited title; so in the king's and nobles' eyes I was mere dirt; the people regarded me with wonder and awe, but there was no reverence mixed with it; through the force of inherited ideas they were not able to conceive of anything being entitled to that except pedigree and lordship.

There you see the hand of that awful power, the Roman Catholic Church. In two or three little centuries it had converted a nation of men to a nation of worms. Before the day of the Church's supremacy in the world, men were men, and held their heads up, and had a man's pride and spirit and independence; and what of greatness and position a person got, he got mainly by achievement, not by birth. But then the Church came to the front, with an axe to grind; and she was wise, subtle, and knew more than one way to skin a cat—or a nation; she invented "divine right of kings," and propped it all around, brick by brick, with the Beatitudes—wrenching them from their good purpose to make them fortify an evil one; she preached (to the commoner) humility, obedience to superiors, the beauty of self-sacrifice; she preached (to the commoner) meekness under insult; preached (still to the commoner, always to the commoner) patience, meanness of spirit, non-resistance under oppression; and she introduced heritable ranks and aristocracies, and taught all the Christian populations of the earth to bow down to them and worship them.


Twain (through his character) especially seems to be singling out the Catholic church with a lot of venom. What was everybody else's take on this. I was very surprised. I guess Twain wasn't the religious sort and certainly not a practicing Catholic. All I can say is wow! He didn't seem to hold much back. And I do not think he was being humorous either!

Message Edited by bentley on 11-01-2007 05:53 AM
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Re: Chapters 1-10 (Chapter 8 ) SPOILER

[ Edited ]
I believe that the Joseph referred to here is Joseph from the biblical story in the book of Genesis.

Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt by his jealous brothers. There he became a servant, was wrongly accused of rape and then imprisoned. However, his talent for interpreting dreams brought him to the notice of Pharah who released him from jail and he became Pharaohs right hand man. He then saved the country from famine, and eventually preserved the lives of his family, the tribe of Israel.

But I think he sees himself as superior to Joseph in that the Pharaoh still retained power over his kingdom, whereas Hank sees himself as the real man in power.

(but I don't have the book in front of me, so I may be wrong)

Message Edited by lostinagoodbook on 11-01-2007 04:11 PM
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bentley
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Re: Chapters 1-10 (Chapter 8 ) SPOILER



lostinagoodbook wrote:
I believe that the Joseph referred to here is Joseph from the biblical story in the book of Genesis.

Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt by his jealous brothers. There he became a servant, was wrongly accused of rape and then imprisoned. However, his talent for interpreting dreams brought him to the notice of Pharah who released him from jail and he became Pharaohs right hand man. He then saved the country from famine, and eventually preserved the lives of his family, the tribe of Israel.

But I think he sees himself as superior to Joseph in that the Pharaoh still retained power over his kingdom, whereas Hank sees himself as the real man in power.

(but I don't have the book in front of me, so I may be wrong)

Message Edited by lostinagoodbook on 11-01-2007 04:11 PM




Lostinagoodbook,

Thank you for your interpretation of which Joseph...Hank was refering to. I will have to research it later and look for the story in Genesis that you are referencing.

I agree with you that Hank believes that "he is the real man in power."

Bentley
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lostinagoodbook
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Re: Chapters 1-10 (Chapter 8 ) SPOILER

The story is found in the book of Genesis Chapter 37 and 39-47.
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bentley
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Re: Chapters 1-10 (Chapter 8 ) SPOILER



lostinagoodbook wrote:
The story is found in the book of Genesis Chapter 37 and 39-47.




Lostinagoodbook,

Thank you very much. Most helpful.

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Re: Chapters 1-10 (Chapter 8 ) SPOILER

I see a parallel between Twain's writing and the European explorations into the interior of Africa, much of which took place during the 19th century. In both cases, we have a technologically adept Westerner (or Westerners) interacting with indigenous people to whom the technology of the foreigners seems magical.

David Livingston, for example, first sailed for Africa in late 1840, and was still exploring into the late 1860s. Speke discovered the source of the Nile in 1863, but even at that date there were vast stretches of Africa into which no European had penetrated. H. Rider Haggard had published She, King Solomon's Mines, and Alan Quartermain just a few years before CY came out, and Africa and its native populations were still mysterious enough to Europeans to make the stories not completely unbelievable.

It was in the context of this opening of a vast continent of natives who had never seen a gun, a compass, a watch, matches, a flint and steel, etc. that Twain was writing A Connecticut Yankee. I have never seen proof that he recognized the connection, but I am persuaded that it most likely was in his mind, either conscious or subconscious.


bentley wrote:
He seems to have done in Merlin for now with his trickery and then seems to settle into the 6th century:

After that, I was just as much at home in that century as I could have been in any other; and as for preference, I wouldn't have traded it for the twentieth. Look at the opportunities here for a man of knowledge, brains, pluck, and enterprise to sail in and grow up with the country. The grandest field that ever was; and all my own; not a competitor; not a man who wasn't a baby to me in acquirements and capacities; whereas, what would I amount to in the twentieth century? I should be foreman of a factory, that is about all; and could drag a seine down street any day and catch a hundred better men than myself.

He thinks of himself even more powerful than the king in many ways and now complains about the Church (another part of Twain's satire). This was a thorn in his side. Will finish up through Chapter 10 for now.

He misses his coffee, tea, tobacco, soap, pictures, pretty much everything he had back in Connecticut but he seems to like that he is the big cheese here.

Message Edited by bentley on 10-31-2007 09:50 PM


_______________
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bentley
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Re: Chapters 1-10 (Chapter 8) SPOILER



Everyman wrote:
I see a parallel between Twain's writing and the European explorations into the interior of Africa, much of which took place during the 19th century. In both cases, we have a technologically adept Westerner (or Westerners) interacting with indigenous people to whom the technology of the foreigners seems magical.

David Livingston, for example, first sailed for Africa in late 1840, and was still exploring into the late 1860s. Speke discovered the source of the Nile in 1863, but even at that date there were vast stretches of Africa into which no European had penetrated. H. Rider Haggard had published She, King Solomon's Mines, and Alan Quartermain just a few years before CY came out, and Africa and its native populations were still mysterious enough to Europeans to make the stories not completely unbelievable.

It was in the context of this opening of a vast continent of natives who had never seen a gun, a compass, a watch, matches, a flint and steel, etc. that Twain was writing A Connecticut Yankee. I have never seen proof that he recognized the connection, but I am persuaded that it most likely was in his mind, either conscious or subconscious.




Hello Everyman,

Your insights are very interesting. Since some of these explorations were occurring or had occurred or had been written about during this time period; your comments make a lot of sense. I was also reading that Twain (Clemens) was undergoing some tough times in his life when this was written which also may have played a factor. Had you read anything about that?

Regards,

Bentley
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bentley
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Re: Chapters 1-10 (Chapter 1 and 2) SPOILER



thinker wrote:
its ok Bentley, its not a spoiler, thats only if you go beyond chapter 10
Gee, you're really getting into the story!!

We get a bit of suspense at chapter 5 "An Inspiration"

I wait for you to catch up!!

Hmm... theres only a ten year difference, well what do you think of the stranger at the castle at the beginning!




Thinker,

I now see what you are talking about in terms of the stranger at the castle at the beginning. Very strange indeed. I discuss my feelings about this in the section dealing with Chapters Twenty to Thirty or thereabouts.

I am certainly caught up and would love to hear more of your take on this work...as of this post I am on chapter 24.

Regards,

Bentley
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thinker
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Re: Chapters 1-10 (Chapter 6 ) SPOILER

Well Bentley
this point you made "felt that he was superior in every way" it takes me over to the "Hank Morgan" thread, remember ConnieK asking if we like or dislike him? Dont you not agree that this "superiority complex" if i must put it that way, definitely had an adverse effect on him?







bentley wrote:
Thinker, I read the next chapter and was amazed how he survived at all with the likes of Clarence..thank god the eclipse was scheduled for that day because Clarence in trying to help almost caused his death and demise. I have to say that he was a very quick thinker. The eclipse and his knowledge of that eclipse really saved him; but he really did look down on these people and I believe felt that he was superior in every way.


Thinker
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