[This beautiful etching is the frontispiece for the Samuel Clemens' book, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (New York : Charles L. Webster & Co., 1889). It shows a knight in armor tilting at a man in"modern" clothes. In Mark Twain's day, Tennyson's Idylls of the King and Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe were wildly popular, and the nineteenth century became obsessed with a particularly romantic brand of medievalism. Speaking through Hank, Twain debunks this romantic spell, seen in the opening of Ivanhoe, which looks only through rose-tinted glasses at history, forgetting the cruelty of feudalism:

In that pleasant district of merry England which is watered by
the river Don, there extended in ancient times a large forest,
covering the greater part of the beautiful hills and valleys
which lie between Sheffield and the pleasant town of Doncaster.
The remains of this extensive wood are still to be seen at the
noble seats of Wentworth, of Warncliffe Park, and around
Rotherham. Here haunted of yore the fabulous Dragon of Wantley;
here were fought many of the most desperate battles during the
Civil Wars of the Roses; and here also flourished in ancient
times those bands of gallant outlaws, whose deeds have been
rendered so popular in English song.]

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

 

King Arthur in Nineteenth-Century America

Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe

George MacDonald: Nineteenth-Century Fantasy Writer

The Cordoba Initiative: A Twenty-First Century Quest for Peace (See also this interview with one of its founders.)

Sufi Questing

Lord of the Rings: Or, Hobbits on a Quest!

Native American Vision Quests

Xena: TV Sitcom Warrior Woman Hero on an Archetypal Quest

Harry Potter versus Star Wars: What, Similarities in Hero Quests?

Clive Staples Lewis (Pilgrims' Regress, Chronicles of Narnia, and more)

T. S. Eliot

G. K. Chesterton

The Matrix

The Odyssey (For a more staid version, see this site with the Samuel Butler translation.)