From Camelot to Sandlot : Gothic Translation in A Kid in King Arthur’s Court
Medieval and Early Modern English Studies, Volume 17 No. 1 (2009)
A Kid in King Arthur’s Court is a 1995 Disney modernization of Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Whereas Twain’s bizarre Gothic setting frames the narrative and generates magical transformation and ambivalent relationship between the protagonist and the medieval world through a vibrant textual encounter, the Disney version’s fantastic journey is opened up by the familiar baseball field which, while appealing to juvenile audience, does not seem to invite serious inquiry. However, the film demonstrates an intricate process of translation, in which the cinematic rendition of the otherness of Arthurian legend to its prospective viewers involves a twofold gothic translation of both medieval culture and contemporary popular culture. Despite its reductive appropriation of some of Twain’s motifs, the movie witnesses how popularized Arthurian legend as familiarized difference can continue to inspire an-other novel perspective on the everyday. Perhaps Arthurians need to accustom themselves to the uncanny experience in popular culture’s domestication of the medieval/Gothic other in which what is familiar to them becomes unsettlingly unfamiliar. The Arthurian tradition is almost synonymous with Arthurian translation, a vigorously contested process that always reinvents the other side of the legend and explores the dynamics between the familiar and the fantastic.