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Pudd'nhead Wilson

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  14,523 Ratings  ·  923 Reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published 1984 by Bantam Classics (first published May 10th 1893)
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Henry Avila
Jun 01, 2016 rated it liked it
During the antebellum south on the western shore of the broad, mighty , muddy, Mississippi River, 2,350 miles long, and miles wide, in the golden era of the steamboats, ( numbering an astounding 1,200, vessels ) feed by more than a dozen tributaries, they continuously went up and down those waters, and entered other streams too. A small , tranquil village named Dawson's Landing , stood, half a days travel by boat below St.Louis, in the state of Missouri, not an important place mind you, but when ...more
mark monday
Samuel Langhorne Clemens: I shall write a classic novel, full of my customary barbed wit yet leavened with my compassion for humanity. I shall open the tale with a delightfully wry meta-introduction - before "meta" was even a thing! The wryness shall continue throughout what will be an exciting story of bold misdeeds, uncertain justice, and a compelling and surely very surprising trial. We shall end the tale with evil happily circumvented - but it will be an ending that is also dripping with iro ...more
Kressel Housman
Jul 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has biting social commentary, but Puddin'head Wilson has all-out black humor. It's the story of Roxy, a light-skinned slave woman who successfully switches her even lighter-skinned son with her master's baby, and follows how each one grows up. I would have liked to see more inside the slaves' lives other than from the character of Roxy, but Mark Twain's point was mainly to criticize the spoiled slaveowners. In any case, the courtroom drama in which Puddin'hea ...more
LaDonna
WOW!! Without divulging any spoilers, that was my reaction to the last sentence of Mark Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson. Suffice it to say that the book took several twists and turns that I did not see coming, but each of them definitely kept the story moving.

There was no way I was going to pass on an opportunity to read a book with a premise such a this one: A white man, born free, but switched at 7 months of age to be raised as a slave. A black man, born into slavery, but switched at 7 months of a
...more
Ken Moten
Sep 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
"There are three infallible ways of pleasing an author, and
the three form a rising scale of compliment: 1—to tell him
you have read one of his books; 2—to tell him you have read
all of his books; 3—to ask him to let you read the
manuscript of his forthcoming book. No. 1 admits you to his
respect; No. 2 admits you to his admiration; No. 3 carries
you clear into his heart.
" —Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar

"If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the prin
...more
Raymond
Jan 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
I read this book in a Southern Literature class about 10 years ago. I remember liking the book very much it is short and was a book that I was unaware that Twain had written.
P.V. LeForge
Sep 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
Although I enjoyed reading Pudd’nhead Wilson, I enjoyed it more because Twain is generally enjoyable rather than because of anything remarkable about the book. In fact, I found the book to be more than a bit ragged. Hindsight is always easy, I know, but the knowledge of how the book came to be written and published points out the book’s flaws in a way that is hard to ignore.

The book was to have been called “Those Extraordinary Twins,” and was to have been a farcical love story between a lightw
...more
Amanda NEVER MANDY
The transparent plot earned this read a three star rating. The author’s voice was very unique and distinct but the story itself was so-so. It had a missing piece feel to it like it was part of a continuous storyline and I happened to snag book three. The only memorable part for me was how the character obtained his childishly silly nickname. You know I walked around for at least three days calling everyone in my house a Pudd’nhead.
Elena
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very uneven read for me. Contemplated abandoning the book two or there times but at the trial time of the plot picked up myself and ended up enjoying the book, especially after it ended - reading the author's notes about the evolution (metamorphosis even) of the story itself.
Joe
Jul 22, 2012 rated it liked it
Pudd'nhead Wilson is a brisk, strange concoction of adventure, mystery and social commentary. It is also a disjointed combination of the astute and the naive; Twain shows biting commentary on the wickedness of slave laws, but appears to condone the 'honor' of the barbaric custom of dueling; he cleverly explains the forensic power of fingerprints (before they were used commonly in criminal investigation) but also ascribes scientific power to the flim-flammery of palmistry. Even the title feels od ...more
Kevin Lake
Jul 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Found myself laughing out loud as I read this one. Mark Twain's style of implementing his dry, cynical wit into his writings was magnificent. If you happen to pick up the version with the forward by T.S. Elliot, skip the forward. All he does is talk of why Twain sucked as well as all other American authors except his beloved Henry James. The book is hilarious and has some great, down home wisdom in it.
David Sarkies
Dec 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who want something different
Recommended to David by: Nobody in particular.
Shelves: historical
The Show Trial
21 January 2013

I had never heard of this story until I purchased a Samuel Clements (aka Mark Twain) book that contained it with two of the stories of his (Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer) that I wanted to read (and it also contained the Prince and the Pauper). In a way this story is very similar, but very different, to Prince and the Pauper. The similarities involve two boys that take each other's place, but that is pretty much where the similarities end. This story is set in the
...more
Dusty
Aug 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
Mark Twain wrote this novel when he was pretty old, pretty crabby, and living in Europe to avoid creditors and the other people who made him feel old and crabby. Really, it's a simple story: A light-skinned slave woman swaps her baby with her master's baby, hoping to ensure the former a happier life without the risk of being "sold down the river," and the rest of the book builds suspense for the "big moment" when true identities are revealed.

I've read a few reviews that allege that Pudd'nhead W
...more
Alex Farrand
Jul 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Well let me start of by saying I bought six of Mark Twain's books for twelve dollars. SAY WHAT? Library sale, that is what. I bought them because I know he wrote many classics and I HAD TO HAVE THEM! Wasn't sure if I would be interested in his stories because in high school all I heard was negative things. Pushing those thoughts aside I read this novel, which is the shortest of the six I have.

Needless to say it was great. I really enjoyed it. Predictable, but fun to read. This story is about two
...more
Karen Chung
Apr 13, 2014 rated it liked it
I've been on a Mark Twain kick, having just finished listening to (Librivox readings of) The Innocents Abroad, which I loved; Tom Sawyer, which I enjoyed a lot; and Huckleberry Finn, which I enjoyed less; and thought I'd find out what this lesser-known book was like. I guess I was at a point of diminishing returns. I happened to listen to the author's notes at the end before starting the book, in the process learning that the two Italian twins in the story started out as conjoined twins, but the ...more
Marcus
Sep 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The trouble with studying literature is that close examination of a book can drain the enjoyment from reading it. As the feller said, if you take a cat apart to see how it works, the first thing you'll discover is a non-working cat.

Every now and then you strike lucky, and your deep study of a book only increases your enjoyment of it. Puddn'head Wilson blends a fairly standard baby-swap plot device with a proto-crime-novel thing in the second half, but as usual with Twain, it's the dessicated pr
...more
Amy
Jan 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
A+ for Mark Twain! This is my first book that I have read by him, and I found it absolutely amazing. For one, I am not usually a fan of classic books (or maybe I just haven't really given myself a chance at them), but I found myself engaged and ready to finish this book as fast as I could.

Surprisingly, this was one of our books for English III that we had to read. I just finished it, and I just can't stop saying just how great it was. I am shocked by how Mark Twain was able to create such an ama
...more
Elizabeth
Mar 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics, history
I found this book utterly fascinating. I had no idea what this book was about until I delved into it and I was completely absorbed from page one.

This book deals with prejudice in just about every area that you can think of: intellect, race, gender, social class and there was even some xenophobia thrown in for good measure.

This is a wonderful book for discussion!



Katie Bananas
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andrea
May 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
I have no idea how this book escaped my notice for so long!
This was really really interesting: part social satire with all of Twain' s trademark social realism, part debate on nature vs. nurture, part thrilling courtroom drama; this really has a bit of everything.
Excellent story, and easily my favorite Twain book yet.
Terris
Jan 23, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Mark Twain is always enjoyable! This story of two switched babies is intriguing, and Pudd'nhead Wilson saves the day. But...as much as I liked this one, it wasn't my favorite. It didn't have the magic of Huckleberry Finn for me. I'm glad I read it, but it doesn't come with a high recommendation from me...just medium :)
Leslie
While I liked the basic story, I don't feel that this is one of Twain's better efforts. I am surprised that it is on the Guardian's list of 1000 novels everyone should read instead of The Prince and the Pauper which I think is much better.
Bruce
Nov 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
An interesting novel in a number of respects, Pudd’nhead Wilson was one of Twain’s later works. Incorporating common devices from previous literature, such as the exchange of infants that he used in his own The Prince and the Pauper, Twain has created a memorable and unique work that, if not one of his most outstanding, is nevertheless worthy of attention. It seems very much an experimental novel, reaching in creative directions but somehow lacking a smoothness and unity that would elevate it to ...more
Kurtlu
Feb 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
eğer çocukken mark twain okumuş ve sevmişseniz, bu kitap elinizdeyken değmesinler keyfinize! nüktedan bir dilin altına gizlenmiş toplumsal yaşam analizleri ve suç analizinde parmak izinin erken dönemde kullanılması mevzuu. dumas(pere) okurken nasıl eğlendiysem twain'i okurken aynı hissiyattaydım. cümleler çok basitti, karakterler derin değildi, tasvir neredeyse hiç yoktu..gibi söylemlerle ukalalık yapmak yerine kitabı yazıldığı dönem içerisinde değerlendiriyorum ve okuduğuma pişman olmadığımı sö ...more
Monica
Amusing and cautionary tale of deception which doubles as a fable on the evils of slavery. This is perhaps one of the first novels that outlines "white privilege". Written in the late 1800s, this novel is way ahead of its time. Twain was able to see the viability of fingerprints as a form of evidence long before it was adopted in real life. That ability to understand the long term impact of science in ways that change world views is extraordinary. The book is not without it's pitfalls. Slavery i ...more
Helynne
May 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
We all read Tom Sawyer when we were kids, and most of us had read Huckleberry Finn in high school English class. These are both great American classics, and deserve all the attention and various film versions they get. However, I believe that Pudd'nhead Wilson must be one of Mark Twain's most unsung masterpieces. This story, named for a bright, but eccentric young attorney, Tom Wilson, whose community thinks he is a "pudd'nhead," makes some very astute statements about the ironies of racism and ...more
Joyce
Feb 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The note of the author at the very end of the book made me laugh more than any of the rest of the book did. Twain wrote at the end there in his candid non-fiction way that is so charmingly witty.

The rest of the book was a delight to read as well. It was a great carrier (as most of his books are) of his opinion and beliefs regarding slavery, albeit put forth in a very creative manner (murder mystery, switched babies, oriental daggers, and all that jazz).

I was almost afraid of the book not havin
...more
Karen
Mar 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
Pudd'nhead Wilson tells the story of two babies, one white, one a slave, switched by the slave's mother. The story follows those boys as they grow up, and even includes a good old fashioned murder mystery. It is a fantastic read. My favorite parts of the book were the short calendar entries that begin each chapter, a few examples:

July 4 - Statistics show that we lose more fools on this day than in all the other days of the year put together. This proves, by the number left in stock, that one Fou
...more
Tim
Apr 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, mark-twain
An interesting commentary on prejudice. I found it particularly interesting that the prejudice most emphasized was that against the title character. I thought it interesting that the townspeople were able to recognize that they were wrong about David Wilson's intelligence, but unable to see (indeed, I am not sure that Twain's story really demonstrates) that the prejudice against an entire class of people is wrong.
Both Roxy's and "Tom's" attitudes toward their race seems to agree with those of t
...more
Michele
Aug 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-of-2013
I had just told someone I had somewhat of a photographic memory for the books I have read, so imagine my horror when I found my own writing inside this book!
Yes, it had been 20 years and during college, which is so crazy, but still, I took it pretty hard.

The first time I read this, I remember I felt so bad that a son could treat his mother like he did, but I think I get it this time.
Tom (Chambers) is black but when he lives in the white world with all its evils, he becomes wicked and a black-hea
...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
First Switched at Birth type book?? 12 36 Sep 20, 2014 04:12AM  
St. Anne's Readin...: Pudd'nhead Wilson Part 1 4 5 Apr 07, 2013 08:57AM  
Significance of the Italian twins? 3 59 Aug 29, 2011 05:19AM  
Switching the babies (for those who read the book) 5 44 Jun 16, 2011 07:16AM  
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Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. He is noted for his novels Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), called "the Great American Novel", and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876).

Twain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which would later provide the setting for Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. He apprenticed with a printer. He also work
...more
More about Mark Twain

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“Adam was but human—this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple's sake, he wanted it only because it was forbidden. The mistake was in not forbidding the serpent; then he would have eaten the serpent.” 918 likes
“Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.” 358 likes
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