Culture, Counter-culture, and the Subversion of the Comic in Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

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Title: Culture, Counter-culture, and the Subversion of the Comic in Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Authors: Fermanis, Porscha
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Date: 1-Jan-2007
Online since: 2020-07-06T13:00:14Z
Abstract: Theoretical interest in the relationship between literature and society is invested with particular purpose in the comic-parodic novel, as a form in which a recurrent oscillation of genres and narrative perspectives occurs only within a hierarchy where positioning is relational and perpetually contested, and where apparently "common" languages and values are revisisted throughout the course of the novel. The Middle Ages, as Umberto Eco reminds us, is a popular site of ironic revisitation for the comic-parodic novelist, providing the opportunity to "speculate about our infancy, of course but also about the illusion of our senility." As Eco goes on to point out, however, writers such as Ariosto and Cervantes do not revisit the Middle Ages as antiquarians but rather as purveyors of a period already refashioned by the romance tradition. To this company he might have added Mark Twain, who has been described by more than one critic as the "American Cervantres." The sixth century Middle Ages to which Twain sends Hank Morgan, his nineteenth-century middle class American hero in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, is in fact the fictive Middle Ages of Malory - the "highly unreal and literary world of the idealistic, anachronistic romance" (Kordecki 338), itself a fifteenth-centure revisitation of the "real" sixth century.
Type of material: Journal Article
Publisher: Penn State University Press
Journal: The Mark Twain Annual
Volume: 5
Issue: 1
Start page: 93
End page: 107
Copyright (published version): 2007 Penn State University Press
Keywords: ParodyLiterary criticism
Subject LCSH: Twain, Mark, 1835-1910
DOI: 10.1111/j.1756-2597.2007.tb00056.x
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Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed
Appears in Collections:English, Drama & Film Research Collection

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