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Puddn'head Wilson and Those Extraordinary Twins (Norton Critical Editions) Paperback – December 16, 2004
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“Mark Twain, in his presentation of Negroes as human beings, stands head and shoulders above the other Southern writers of his times.”—Langston Hughes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Inside Flap
Featuring the brilliantly drawn Roxanna, a mulatto slave who suffers dire consequences after switching her infant son with her master's baby, and the clever Pudd'nhead Wilson, an ostracized small-town lawyer, Twain's darkly comic masterpiece is a provocative exploration of slavery and miscegenation. Leslie A. Fiedler described the novel as "half melodramatic detective story, half bleak tragedy," noting that "morally, it is one of the most honest books in our literature." "Those Extraordinary Twins, the slapstick story that evolved into Pudd'nhead Wilson, provides a fascinating view of the author's process.
The text for this Modern Library Paperback Classic was set from the 1894 first American edition. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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As is typical of Twain works, PUDDINHEAD WILSON is a biting social commentary, pointing out the inconsistencies and ridiculousness of the ways people behave towards one another. In reviewing this book, I cannot avoid mentioning the frequent use of the “N-word”, which Twain uses as a device for pushing home his points about the unfairness of unequal treatment. It is jarring and unpleasant to read for many modern readers, including myself, especially when used in a purposefully derogatory way, and often by the “black” characters themselves. I put “black” in parentheses because the central black characters are only 1/16 and 1/32 negro, which was apparently plenty for them to remain slaves under the law and thus be viewed by society and by themselves as “N-word”. I still recommend the book, just with a caution to expect the visceral offensiveness of racist language and behavior. It is amazing to think that such obvious evil and bigotry was the norm in parts of our country, and really not all that long ago.