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Pudd'nhead Wilsonby Mark Twain
Synopses & Reviews
PUDD'NHEAD WINS HIS NAME
Tell the truth or trump–but get the trick.–pudd'nhead wilson's calendar.
THE SCENE of this chronicle is the town of Dawson's Landing, on the Missouri side of the Mississippi, half a day's journey, per steamboat, below St. Louis.
In 1830 it was a snug little collection of modest one and two-story frame dwellings whose whitewashed exteriors were almost concealed from sight by climbing tangles of rose vines, honeysuckles, and morning-glories. Each of these pretty homes had a garden in front fenced with white palings, and opulently stocked with hollyhocks, marigolds, touch-me-nots, prince's-feathers, and other old-fashioned flowers; while on the window-sills of the houses stood wooden boxes containing moss-rose plants and terra-cotta pots in which grew a breed of geranium whose spread of intensely red blossoms accented the prevailing pink tint of the rose-clad house-front like an explosion of flame. When there was room on the ledge outside of the pots and boxes for a cat, the cat was there--in sunny weather--stretched at full length, asleep and blissful, with her furry belly to the sun and a paw curved over her nose. Then that house was complete, and its contentment and peace were made manifest to the world by this symbol, whose testimony is infallible. A home without a cat--and a well-fed, well-petted and properly revered cat--may be a perfect home, perhaps, but how can it prove title?
All along the streets, on both sides, at the outer edge of the brick sidewalks, stood locust trees with trunks protected by wooden boxing, and these furnished shade for summer and a sweet fragrance in spring when the clusters of buds came forth. The main street, one block back from the river, and running parallel with it, was the sole business street. It was six blocks long, and in each block two or three brick stores three stories high towered above interjected bunches of little frame shops.
Retells the classic story of two boys, one a slave and one his master, who are exchanged as infants, a secret that is not discovered until one becomes involved in a murder trial
At the beginning of Pudd'nhead Wilson a young slave woman, fearing for her infant son's life, exchanges her light-skinned child with her master's. From this rather simple premise Mark Twain fashioned one of his most entertaining, funny, yet biting novels. On its surface, Pudd'nhead Wilson possesses all the elements of an engrossing nineteenth-century mystery: reversed identities, a horrible crime, an eccentric detective, a suspenseful courtroom drama, and a surprising, unusual solution. Yet it is not a mystery novel. Seething with the undercurrents of antebellum southern culture, the book is a savage indictment in which the real criminal is society, and racial prejudice and slavery are the crimes. Written in 1894, Pudd'nhead Wilson glistens with characteristic Twain humor, with suspense, and with painted irony: a gem among the author's later works.
Table of Contents
Introduction — Whisper to the reader — Pudd'nhead wins his name — Driscoll spares his slaves — Roxy plays a shrewd trick — Ways of the changelings — Twins thrill Dawson's landing — Swimming in glory — Unknown nymph — Marse Tom tramples his chance — Tom practices sycophancy — Nymph revealed — Pudd'nhead's startling discovery — Tom stares at ruin — Roxana insists upon reform — Robber robbed — Sold down the river — Judge utters dire prophecy — Roxana commands — Prophecy realized — Murderer chuckles — Doom.
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