“CAMELOT… NAME OF THE ASYLUM, LIKELY”: VERY SCARCE SIGNED 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 full morocco clamshell box. $19,000.
First edition, second issue, of Twain’s comedic critique of Arthurian legend and 19th-century America. This copy inscribed and signed by the author "Truly Yours Mark Twain" on a front flyleaf.
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 . The type on the last two lines of page 72 is not broken; as the printing went on the type on these lines showed progressive signs of wear. 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 clean, a bit of light rubbing to cloth extremities, gilt bright. A near-fine copy, scarce and desirable inscribed and signed by Twain.