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American Arthuriana: Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889)




TWAIN, Mark. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. New York: Charles L. Webster. 1889.


FIRST AMERICAN EDITION (220 x 180 mm) pp. 575, [ii publisher ads]. Floral endpapers. Gift inscription from 1947 on front fly leaf. First edition, mix state issue but early: lacks half title on recto of frontispiece, lacks the s-shaped ornament between The and King on p. 59, has broken text on p. 72. Very minor wear to end-bands, minor scuffing to foredge, but otherwise NEAR FINE condition.


In part inspired by a dream, and in part inspired by reading the 15th century Le Morte d’Arthur, as many have done before him Mark Twain adapted the legends of King Arthur to reflect and comment on his own society.


Like the misty origins of the tales of King Arthur, the first issue of the first edition of A Connecticut Yankee is somewhat mysterious. Its original proportions are not known and there are three states that indicate priority: an s-shaped ornament on p. 59 that was later omitted; the last two lines of p. 72 appear with perfect and broken type; and only a few copies are recorded has having the half-title printed on the recto of the frontispiece. These markers, however, appear in random combinations and the confused state of these states is evident by their presence and absences in copies personally given by Twain for Christmas in 1889. Thus, the present copy is likely not a first state, but is certainly an early one.


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