This may have been written well over a century ago, but it is still enormously readable and entertaining and hasn't dated as much as you might think. It's a comic satire, it's targets royalty, the class system, slavery, superstition, the Church, deference, custom, ignorance, governance - all the precepts which underpin Twain's fantastic conception of sixth century Britain in the time of King Arthur. Hank Morgan, transported from nineteenth century America, is scornful of the society he finds there. He sets about, with a mix of cunning, bravura and technology, not just to change the hearts, minds and customs of the time but to replace it with an industrial republic in which all men are equal. His feats of technology soon give him the pre-eminent position of The Boss, second only to King Arthur, and the bête noir of poor old Merlin - who is depicted as a charlatan. But though Morgan succeeds in industrialising much of the work force, his innovations are seen as species of magic, not science. In the minds of the thousands of knights - the country's ruling class - nothing really changes, they are as wedded to privilege, chivalry and war at the end of the story as they were at the beginning. Arthur is depicted as a noble innocent, a sort of overgrown, likeable schoolboy, easy to dupe, not easy to cower, and Morgan falls for his personal charm and regal spell as much as anyone, weakening his efforts at times to achieve a republic. But though the themes of liberty, equality and fraternity are taken seriously, they are presented here with a comic-strip hilarity which undermines their appeal. This makes it hard to take Twain seriously as a social reformer, but as an entertainer he remains one of the best.
One of the best books I've ever read. I went into it expecting a gently comedic adventure with fish-out-of-water humour. What I got was an incisive, satirical, hugely intelligent book that lambasts and lampoons social ills that are just as relevant today as they were in Twain's time, or Arthur's. If you ever wanted to turn someone atheist, liberal, or just that little more open-minded, this would be one of the best ways to do it, as Twain covers the subjects of human rights, religion, political power, sensible economics and human endeavour with admirable clarity and excellent vignettes that effectively act as fables.
I bought this as it is featured in my favourite film of all time, An American Werewolf In London, and it is utterly brilliant. Hilarious stuff, I'm glad the film referenced it, otherwise I would never have read it. Its one of the wittiest books I have ever read.
Delivered promptly in perfect condition. Very pleased