Samuel Langhorne Clemens, Mark Twain (1835-1910), was born in Florida, Missouri, but grew up on the Mississippi River in Hannibal, Missouri. He happily lived as a river pilot on the Mississippi River until the Civil War ended river traffic. In 1861, after deserting the Confederate army, Twain moved west. It was in the West that he wrote “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calavaras County.” Throughout his life Twain enjoyed entertaining Americans with his whimsical writings; but below the surface, Twain was a complicated, and, many felt, a bitter man. At the end of his life, Mark Twain said, “Everything human is pathetic. The secret source of humor itself is not joy but sorrow. There is no humor in heaven.”
The protagonist, Hank Morgan, whose name the reader does not know until the end of the novel, was the chief foreman at a firearms factory in Hartford, Connecticut. He was constantly inventing innovative ways to make firearms. Supervising more than a thousand men had also taught Morgan how to handle people; however, he had a fight with a bully named Hercules who hit him in the head with a crowbar.
When Morgan awoke, he was lying under an oak tree. A man clothed in metal and colorful cloth took Morgan captive to the manâ€™s home in Camelot. Morgan had been captured by Sir Kay of King Arthur’s Roundtable. He was presented before a court led by Merlin, the nefarious magician. Merlin quickly decreed that Morgan should die at noon, June 21, A.D. 528. Morgan remembered that on June 21, A.D. 528 a total eclipse of the sun would occur. This might be his salvation!
The appointed day came and Morgan was to be burned at the stake. While the fire grew around him, Morgan stood with his hands pointing toward the sun. The world became dark! Morgan, then, released the â€œspellâ€ and of course he was released. He subsequently replace the irascible Merlin as Arthur’s adviser, and the unhappy magician was cast into prison.
Though he was now the second most powerful person in the kingdom, Morgan missed many things from the 19th century. He, therefore, began to recreate the 19th century in the 6th century! His only opposition was from the Roman Catholic Church.
Three years passed. Sir Sagramor, challenged Morgan to a duel. To prepare himself for the encounter, Morgan decided to go on a quest. He had many great adventures. During this quest, he once again shamed Merlin by causing a dry well to hold water again (something Merlin could not do).
He and King Arthur, pretending to be common people, traveled all over the kingdom and they were horrified at the plight of the common people.
Because of a misunderstanding he and Arthur were condemned to die. At this point, Morgan found a telephone, informed Camelot of what was happening, and received the reassurance that five hundred knights would rush to London. At the last moment, Lancelot with his five hundred knights saved Morgan and Arthur. They were riding bicycles!
Morgan was still faced with a duel against Sir Sagramor. Morgan easily lassoed him and pull him from his horse. After Merlin stole Morganâ€™s lasso Morgan shot Sagramor with a homemade pistol.
Arthur instituted great social changes. Morgan married and Sandy his wife had a little girl. Morgan took his family on vacation, and, while he was away, Sir Lancelot lead a revolt and destroyed much of Camelot.
They dug trenches and put up electric fences. Thousands of enemy knights were killed but Morgan was stabbed. An old woman tried to nurse Morgan. The nurse was a disguised Merlin!
A poisonous gas given off by the rotting corpses killed everyone – except Morgan. Morgan was able to sleep for thirteen hundred years – until he work up once again in his own 19th century.