"Backgrounds and Sources" includes selections on King Arthur from the Oxford Companion to English Literature; on the total eclipse from The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus by Washington Irving; and on the "king's touch," the ascetic saints, and the financing of the Mansion House by W. E. H. Lecky. Selections from Clemens's letters, notebooks, autobiography, and other writings and newspaper reports of his 1886 manuscript reading at Governor's Island show how the novel developed. A section of the Beard illustrations includes material by Beard, Clemens, and Henry Nash Smith. The English edition is discussed by Dennis Welland.
Early critical views are by Sylvester Baxter, William Dean Howells, Andrew Lang, Rudyard Kipling, Charles Whibley, Albert Bigelow Paine, John B. Hoben, and anonymous reviewers in the London Daily Telegraph and the Boston Literary World. The later critical essays are by Howard G. Baetzhold, James D. Williams, Kenneth S. Lynn, James M. Cox, Louis J. Budd, Henry Nash Smith, David Ketterer, and Everett Carter.
A Selected Bibliography is also included.
Hank Morgan, a 19th-century American, is returned to 6th-century Camelot when he is knocked unconscious during a brawl with a workman at the Colt arms factory where he works. A Connecticut Yankee ... was conceived as a comic novel, based in anachronistic contrasts, but became far darker in the writing: for as Morgan introduces the Round Table to such dubious modern delights as industrial progress and ideology which worships the machine, he sparks a civil war in Arthur's England. Both sides are destroyed by the technology which Morgan has introduced in an apocalyptic ending. The book questions ideas of monarchy and democracy and is fiercely interrogative about the value of technology to man. (Kirkus UK)