Pudd'nhead Wilson

Front Cover
Penguin, 1969 - Fiction - 320 pages
At the beginning of "Pudd'nhead Wilson" a young slave woman, fearing for her infant's 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 pointed irony: a gem among the author's later works.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - TheDivineOomba - LibraryThing

I gave up on this book - between the unlikable characters, the stupid choices these characters make, and general discomfort with the entire book, I stopped reading. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - crmass - LibraryThing

Not as funny as some Twain's other books, but still an enjoyable story. I found the second part, Those Extraordinary Twins, to be pretty weak, though Twain even seems to admit that. It was the original story that was later removed to make way for Pudd'nhead Wilson's tale. Read full review

Selected pages


A Whisper to the Reader
Those Extraordinary Twins
Puddnhead Wilsons Calendar

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Page 16 - freak" or "freaks" which was - or which were - on exhibition in our cities - a combination consisting of two heads and four arms joined to a single body and a single pair of legs and I thought I would write an extravagantly fantastic little story with this freak of nature for hero - or heroes - a silly young miss for heroine, and two old ladies and two boys for the minor parts.

About the author (1969)

Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in 1835. He trained as a river-boat pilot, but turned to journalism after the Civil War, and published his first short story in 1865. He is also the author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Malcolm Bradbury was a renowned writer and journalist.

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