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The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson Kindle Edition
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About the Author
Sidney E. Berger is Professor of English and Communications at Simmons College. He was for many years Head of Special Collections at the University of California, Riverside. His many publications include The Design of Bibliographies: Observations, References and Examples and Medieval English Drama: An Annotated Bibliography of Recent Criticism. --This text refers to the paperback edition.
- File size : 251 KB
- Publication date : May 17, 2012
- Print length : 139 pages
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Simultaneous device usage : Unlimited
- Screen Reader : Supported
- ASIN : B0084B0E94
- Language: : English
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #6,405 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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If you read the paperback side-by-side with the free version of the novel, you will notice about ten to twenty differences in each chapter with regard to punctuation, hyphenation, capitalization, and presentation. One suspects that the e-book was transcribed from an audio version of the novel, without rigorously proofreading the text afterwards. As such, the free e-book copy is somewhat disappointing, and is not recommended for readers who want to understand Twain’s style of writing.
You can follow the story from the Kindle version -- and this is a great one of two babies swapped at birth, written during a time when the Plessy versus Ferguson case dominated the headlines. My review of the story is found in my review of the Bantam Classics version of the novel. The Kindle novel is readable, but you will notice things like Judge is not capitalized, the extracts from Puddnhead Wilson’s calendar are not formatted properly, words like window-sills, moss-rose, and brad-awls don’t have hyphens, and the same words are not italicized in the e-book that were italicized in the Bantam classics book.
Normally, I’d report the errors to Project Gutenberg -- because that’s where these free Kindle books come from -- and tell you to download the novel there, but there are too many errors to report in this case.
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.
Pudd’nhead Wilson came to the village around this time to settle there. He was a very smart young man and a lawyer. One day, he was attacked by a dog and said that he wished he owned half the dog so he could kill his half. The village people did not understand the witticism, took the statement literally, decided that the lawyer was a fool, and began to call him Pudd’nhead. As a result, no one came to him for legal advice and for about two decades he had no law case until the end of this drama.
Tom, the former slave, turned out badly. He mistreated Chambers and his mother Roxy, stole, gambled, incurred huge debts, lied, sold his mother down south despite knowing she is his mother, and killed. He led the people to believe that one of two twins who visited the village killed his adopted father. Pudd’nhead saves the day.
Although I enjoyed the book, one fact bothered me, although not enough to ruin the enjoyment of the story which I think is great. It seemed to me that Mark Twain wanted to demonstrate to his readers that racism is bad, they should treat blacks better because it is even impossible sometimes to distinguish a black person from one who is white. But it seemed to me that part of the tale proved the opposite.
Two factors can affect a person, environment and heredity. We could expect that the white son raised in slavery, should be shown to be good and intelligent. He is described as good and we read that he does many good things, but the slave environment so affected his mind and behavior that after being recognized as the white heir of a fortune, he found it to be extremely difficult to live in the white world. These facts attack slavery for they show the effect of slavery even on a white man.
But the development of the fake-Tom seems to say the opposite. Despite being 1/32nd black, we would expect that since he is human and the races being essentially the same, he would turn out to be a very nice person. It would show that given the right environment, a black man can act as a man who is white. Yet, despite having all the advantages of wealth and a good education, he turns out to be an evil person. Arguably, this shows that his black heredity overrode the environment and proves that black people are bad and cannot be civilized. I am convinced that Twain did not mean this, but the story can be interpreted this way.
Top reviews from other countries
However, it is a witty book, very interesting for a historian dealing with attitudes of race in the American South.