BRIAN A. Scholars often foreground the critique of industrialization in Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889). Henry Nash Smith, among the earliest in this tradition, reads in Connecticut Yankee resistance to the mechanization and rationalization of American labor, claiming that the novel emblematizes a "conflict in Twain's mind between a conscious endorsement of progress and a latent revulsion against the non-human imperatives of the machine and all it stood for in the way of discipline and organization."1 More recent studies complicate this account by pointing out that industrial discourses influenced Connecticut Yankee in spite of Twain's "latent revulsion" against the machine. Cindy Weinstein recalls that Twain often supported the "efficiency techniques" managers introduced to factories in the fin-de-siècle. However, she adds, Twain struggled to represent efficiency in Connecticut Yankee because rendering its characters productive workers turned them into "mechanical" personalities that made for digressive storytelling and forced Twain to expose his artistic labor. Thus Twain used the novel to allegorize the flattening of individual identity that factory workers experienced with the advent of productivity policies; moreover, he sought to "interrogate traditional relations between efficiency and inefficiency in order to suggest that literary labor," especially
American Literary Realism – University of Illinois Press
Published: Sep 5, 2014
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