I am also working with CY--for a presentation at a Medieval conference next
year and for an essay in a collection to be published in '97--and I am
wondering, perhaps more generally, about Twain's interest in the Middle Ages
as a backdrop for so much of his later work.
Consider, for instance, that Twain's own sentimental favorite (_Joan of
and the novel his family liked best (_Prince and the Pauper_) and the novel
that signaled a significant transition in his thinking and writing
(_Connecticut Yankee_) and his last major achievement (_No. 44, Mysterious
Stranger_) all share in common the author's use of the intellectual and
material landscape of the Middle Ages as the backdrop for some of his most
important fictional writings.
So why did Twain look back at the Medieval period--both the Early and Late
Middle Ages--to reflect on his own views of contemporary politics, business,
religion, society, and human nature? Was Twain's interest in the past an
effort to revive or refute the values of the Middle Ages? What was the
response of late 19th century America to Twain's medieval meandering? These
are some of the questions I want to pursue, using CY as my primary point of
Can I get there from here? Any comments or suggestions about primary
Thanks in advance for any help along these lines.
Timothy J. Beals
Western Michigan University