Kressel Housman's Reviews > Pudd'nhead Wilson

Pudd'nhead Wilson by Mark Twain
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Jan 31, 14

bookshelves: fiction, classics, historical-fiction
Read in January, 2002

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'head Wilson reveals the truth will have you riveted.

An interesting literary tidbit: Mark Twain is known to have disliked Jane Austen's work, saying something roughly along these lines, "I can't stand Jane Austen. Every time I read Pride and Prejudice, I want to dig her up and beat her with her own shin bone." But as the Jane Austen fans love to point out, "every time I read . . ." implies that he read her more than once, and Mark Twain's sense of humor was to be negative about everybody and everything. But I think his ultimate tribute to JA comes at the beginning of Puddin'head. Compare this: "There is no character, howsoever good and fine, but it can be destroyed by ridicule, howsoever poor and witless" to Darcy's "the wisest and the best of men - nay, the wisest and best of their actions - may be rendered ridiculous by a person whose first object in life is a joke." Perhaps it's just a universal observation by two satirists, but I think the wording is very close.
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message 1: by Skylar (new)

Skylar Burris This reminds me that I need to read more Mark Twain...especially now that I'm older and can probably appreciate his satire better.


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