Mark Twain's classic satirical tale of race and identity. Roxana, a light-skinned slave nurse on a large Southern plantation, is desperate to give her son a better chance at life than she had ever enjoyed, and so she switches him with the master's son. Years later, when Roxana's real son has turned to gambling, murder, and theft, it is the country lawyer, Pudd'nhead Wilson, who unmasks the true identity of the two. Considered Twain's most courageous work, this short novel is one of the most sensitive treatments of slavery in American fiction.
Mark Twain takes a hard look at the consequences of slavery in America in this classic satire.
Set in a town on the Mississippi during the pre-Civil War era, Puddnhead Wilson tackles the seminal American issue of slavery in a tragicomedy of switched identities. What happens when a child born free and a child born a slave change places? The result is a biting social commentary with enduring relevance, and a good old-fashioned murder mystery. It also introduces one of Twains favorite characters: Puddnhead Wilson, an intellectual with a penchant for amateur sleuthing. F.R. Leavis proclaimed this novel "the masterly work of a great writer."
With an Introduction by Louis Budd
In his person and in his pursuits, Mark Twain (1835-1910) was a man of extraordinary contrasts. Although he left school at twelve, when his father died, he was eventually awarded honorary degrees from Yale University, the University of Missouri, and Oxford University. His career encompassed such varied occupations as printer, Mississippi riverboat pilot, journalist, travel writer, and publisher. He made fortunes from his writing, but toward the end of his life he had to resort to lecture tours to pay his debts. He was hot-tempered, profane, and sentimentaland also pessimistic, cynical, and tortured by self-doubt. His nostalgia for the past helped produce some of his best books. He lives in American letters as a great artist, the writer whom William Dean Howells called "the Lincoln of our literature."
Louis Budd has written Mark Twain: Social Philosopher (1962) and Our Mark Twain: The Making of His Public Personality (1983). With Peter Messent, he edited A Companion to Mark Twain (2005). He was founding president of the Mark Twain Circle of America.
"He is a man of force...a blacksmith who stands at his anvil with the fire burning and strikes hard and hits the mark every time."Maxim Gorky