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Pudd'nhead Wilson

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  19,819 ratings  ·  1,151 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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3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  19,819 ratings  ·  1,151 reviews


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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
Jim
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this as a teen, so probably 45 years ago. I thought I remembered fairly well. Nope! Oh, I remembered the main points, but it was almost like a new book & really worth reading. This is Twain's answer to nature versus nurture while satirizing race, religion, 'honor', & small town life. While the destination is wonderful, it's the trip that is best.

The story is so well known enough that there will be spoilers in this review.

Tom & Chambers are switched at birth by their nurse who
...more
B. P. Rinehart
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Sarah
4 stars for Pudd'nhead Wilson, 2 stars for Those Extraordinary Twins.
Elizabeth
Jun 29, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is definitely a well-kept secret. There are a lot of unknown Twain novels that are quite good, but this is sometimes referred to by critics as the third of his truly American novels. I like this book, and considering I had to write a whole research paper on it that's saying something. As a story its good, with a murder mystery, daggers, children switched at birth, etc... But on a deeper level it deals with slavery and miscegenation, humanity and the nature v. nurture concept. Very interesti ...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!



BELIEVESINMIRACLES
May 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
Glad that is over !
I did not like this book much.
The idea of the infant switching was a good one, but then it got too convoluted and became a chore to continue reading.
The excessive use of the slave dialect was maddening and tiresome and this most certainly is not my favorite work by Twain at all.
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
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.
Kate
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2/5stars

"Tom" is a fucking asshole, Roxy is a horrible woman/mother and Twain's writing style is obnoxious as fuck. only giving it 2 stars rather than 1 because it wasn't as horrible as huck finn at least
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
Barnaby Hazen
May 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Terrific classic. Genesis of CSI, if you think about it--early courtroom drama. I'd really be interested to know when the concept of the fingerprint being used as evidence came about, because Twain did a great job presenting it as if for the first time in this little historical town.

So there's this other item of personal note, meant especially for authors currently alive and writing. Twain's use of colloquial, phonetic language on behalf of African American slaves is beyond reproach given what
...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
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
ramezan
چند روز قبل از عید سال چهارم دبستان (که قرار بود سفر نریم) با خالهم رفته بودم مدرسهٔ راهنماییای که توش کار میکرد و صاف رفتم توی کتابخونهشون بست نشستم تا برای عیدم توشه بردارم. الان که فکر میکنم کارم رسما رانتخواری محسوب میشد چون قاعدتا من پسربچه دبستانی نباید بتونم از یه مدرسه راهنمایی دخترونه اونم تو یه منطقه دیگه کتاب قرض بگیرم. بگذریم. نمیدونم واقعا بزرگترین کتابخونه مدرسهای بود که تو عمرم دیده بودم یا چون بچه بودم و کوچیک بودم همچین حسی داشتم (چون همچین توهمی راجع به دبستانم هم داشتم ولی بعد ...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 6 Apr 07, 2013 08:57AM  
Significance of the Italian twins? 3 63 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
“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.” 937 likes
“Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.” 360 likes
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