“CAMELOT… NAME OF THE ASYLUM, LIKELY”: FIRST EDITION OF TWAIN’S CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR’S COURT
TWAIN, Mark. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. New York: Charles L. Webster, 1889. Octavo, original green pictorial cloth. Housed in a custom clamshell box.
First edition, second issue, of Twain’s comedic critique of Arthurian legend and 19th-century America.
After reading Malory's Morte d'Arthur, Twain wrote this work to explore "a number of implicit parallels between Arthur's England and the American South: slavery; an agrarian economy which came into armed conflict with an industrial economy; a chivalric code which, Clemens said, was secondhand Walter Scott and kept the South mawkish, adolescent, verbose and addicted to leatherheaded anachronisms like duels and tournaments. In both frameworks a civil war destroys the old order, and the Yankee has as acute a sense of loss as Mark Twain did" (Kaplan, 297). "The novel is a characteristic Twainian amalgam of fantasy and fun, observation and satire, that both amuses and provokes powerful reflection as it confronts the customs of olden times with the brash values of the New World" (Lacy, 478). This title is Twain's first collaboration with illustrator Beard. "Since Twain enthusiastically approved every drawing in the novel, it should be read as a full collaboration between the author and artist. The pictures are as essential to an understanding of the work as are the words" (LeMaster & Wilson, 64). Second issue, without scroll-like ornament between the words "The" and "King" of the caption on page  and with broken type on page 72. Without scarce half title (in a few copies, printed on the recto of the frontispiece), as usual. BAL 3429. Johnson, McBride, 124. MacDonnell, 48-49.
Interior generally fine, inner paper hinges expertly reinforced. Cloth with light rubbing to spine ends, joints and edges, minor spotting to rear board, front board fresh, all gilt bright. A pleasing copy in near-fine condition.