Monday, February 3, 2014

Book Review: "Pudd'nhead Wilson" by Mark Twain

There is just something about Mark Twain that I just love.  I'm not an expert on his works by any stretch of the imagination...  I'd even venture to say that there is more published by him that I haven't read as compared to what I have read - but I've loved everything I have read.  I plan on reading more, for sure, and this was just one more off the list.

Pudd'nhead Wilson is one of the residents of this steamboat-landing town on the Mississippi River.  He is very smart man, but he made a comment years ago that went right over the townspeople's heads - so they decided he was really a Pudd'nhead.  And the nickname stuck.  But the story really isn't about him.  It is about these two boys, born on the same day - one to a slave woman, the other to her master and his wife.  Because the slave herself was only 1/16th African American, the boys were very similar looking.  The slave mother - Roxana - switched the babies so that the master would never sell her boy down the river, separating them.  This was obviously done secretly...  and the book tells of everything that follows.

This is a very short book - probably technically considered a novella - but it doesn't read that way.  I am a pretty quick reader, but I still spent more time than I expected to with this one and am happy for that.  Twain writes in such a way that you really don't want to miss a sarcastic or ironic remark, and you want to kind of revel in his blatant social commentary and criticism.  It really is fun to read, lots of fun quotes to enjoy, and a perfectly ironic ending (that does happen kind of quickly) and all of it about the ridiculousness of racism and prejudice.

Pudd'nhead Wilson
by Mark Twain
Dover Thrift Edition (unabridged), 1999.  First Published 1894.
122 pages
Source:  Purchased Used
Link to Amazon:

Pudd'nhead Wilson (Dover Thrift Editions)

6 comments: said...

Agreed. I enjoyed this book a lot, and I need to read more Twain because he's so clever.

Susan said...

I should read more Twain also. I only recently read Huck Finn for the first time. I had no idea it was going to be so entertaining.

Sarah Reads Too Much said...

I loved Huck! So funny.... I need to read Tom Sawyer again though.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I was not expecting this one to deal with fingerprinting and race. I was really surprised!

Charlie (The Worm Hole) said...

Interesting way of commenting on the issues. I've not got to Twain yet and hadn't heard of this book, and I'm glad to have now. Well done on What's In A Name, a very creative choice, that's for sure!

Joy said...

Hopping over from the What's In a Name Challenge.

I grew up just south of Hannibal, Missouri, so Twain was a huge part of my childhood. I read Pudd'nhead Wilson to earn my Mark Twain badge (a special badge for Girl Scouts in our region). Most girls read Tom Sawyer, of course, but being an overachiever, I'd already read that one.

I remember Pudd'nhead Wilson as a funny book, but I'll bet I'd get more out of it if I re-read it now.

Joy's Book Blog

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