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Tells the story of two boys, one a slave and one his master, who are exchanged as infants, a secret that is not discovered until one becomes involved in a murder trial.
Complete and unabridged edition. The stories central intrigue revolves around two boys-one, born into slavery, with 1/32 black ancestry; the other, white, born to be the master of the house. The two boys, who look similar, are switched at infancy. Each grows into the other's social role.
This collection seeks to place Pudd’nhead Wilson—a neglected, textually fragmented work of Mark Twain’s—in the context of contemporary critical approaches to literary studies. The editors’ introduction argues the virtues of using Pudd’nhead Wilson as a teaching text, a case study in many of the issues presently occupying literary criticism: issues of history and the uses of history, of canon formation, of textual problematics, and finally of race, class, and gender. In a variety of ways the essays build arguments out of, not in spite of, the anomalies, inconsistencies, and dead ends in the text itself. Such wrinkles and gaps, the authors find, are the symptoms of an inconclusive, even evasive, but culturally illuminating struggle to confront and resolve difficult questions bearing on race and sex. Such fresh, intellectually enriching perspectives on the novel arise directly from the broad-based interdisciplinary foundations provided by the participating scholars. Drawing on a wide variety of critical methodologies, the essays place the novel in ways that illuminate the world in which it was produced and that further promise to stimulate further study. Contributors. Michael Cowan, James M. Cox, Susan Gillman, Myra Jehlen, Wilson Carey McWilliams, George E. Marcus, Carolyn Porter, Forrest Robinson, Michael Rogin, John Carlos Rowe, John Schaar, Eric Sundquist
The two narratives published together in The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson and the Comedy Those Extraordinary Twins are overflowing with spectacular events. Twain shows us conjoined twins, babies exchanged in the cradle, acts of cross-dressing and racial masquerade, duels, a lynching, and a murder mystery. Pudd’head Wilson tells the story of babies, one of mixed race and the other white, exchanged in their cradles, while Those Extraordinary Twins is a farcical tale of conjoined twins. Although the stories were long viewed as flawed narratives, their very incongruities offer a fascinating portrait of key issues—race, disability, and immigration—facing the United States in the final decades of the nineteenth century. Hsuan Hsu’s introduction traces the history of literary critics’ response to these works, from the confusion of Twain’s contemporaries to the keen interest of current scholars. Extensive historical appendices provide contemporary materials on race discourse, legal contexts, and the composition and initial reception of the texts.
"Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894) was Mark Twain's last serious work of fiction, and perhaps his only real novel. Written in a more sombre vein than his other Mississippi writings, it reveals the sinister forces that, towards the end of his life, Mark Twain felt to be threatening the American dream. The central plot revolves around the tragedy of 'Roxy', a mulato slave whose attempt to save her son from his fate succeeds only in destroying him. In spite of a storyline that includes child swapping, palmistry, and a pair of Italian twins, this astringent work also raises the serious issue of racial difference."--P. [4] of cover.
Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894), written in a more sombre vein than his other Mississippi writings, was Mark Twain's last serious work of fiction. It reveals the sinister forces that, towards the end of his life, Twain thought to be threatening the American dream. The central plot revolves around the tragedy of "Roxy," a mulatto slave whose attempt to save her son from his fate succeeds only in destroying him. An astringent work which raises the serious issue of racial difference, Pudd'nhead Wilson is considered by the critic F.R. Leavis to be "a classic of the use of popular modes--the sensational and the melodramatic." The volume also includes two other late works by Twain, Those Extraordinary Twins and The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg. About the Series: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

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