"He will cleave me in twain . . . . I don’t look so good in twain - all my suits were made for a whole person."
-- Woody Allen, as the Jester in "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex*"
Apparently, you can teach these ol' weblogs new tricks:
Unpopular Culture is meant to be a sort of an online literary salon, where readers can come to read books and talk about them. The idea is this: every weekday, I’ll post the next chapter of a book to the site. Because the works need to be public domain in the United States (where I, and the web server, live), they’ll be older works, from the early 20th century at the very latest – hence the name Unpopular Culture.
As first book under consideration, she has chosen Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (hence my flimsy medieval "twain" reference above).
I picked ACYIKAC for the inaugural piece on this site for several reasons. It’s very accessible to the modern reader, even ones who haven’t touched a 'classic' since they fled their freshman composition course–which was necessary if I am to suck you in to this project. Yet it’s also literary, and perhaps more importantly, it’s regarded as literary by the folks who make up the canon. (Although perhaps that is only that St. Mark’s star currently rides high in the literary firmament.) Furthermore, it’s hilarious. (Really.) Huck Finn shares these marvelous attributes, but everyone had to read Huck Finn in tenth grade, and I am hoping to expose people to something they haven’t read before.
If you have not read the Connecticut Yankee, I join in recommending it. Twain was sliding into the serious misanthropy of his later years when he wrote this one, but his writerly skills were still near their peak. The book is, as promised, very funny, but it is also much darker in tone by its conclusion than you may expect. A hundred years on, it is still remarkably contemporary in its skeptical view of humankind... and as a bonus contains more WMD's than have thus far surfaced in Iraq.