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 identities, a horrible crime, an eccentric detective, a suspenseful courtroom drama, and a surprising, unusual solution.Yet it is not a mystery novel.Seething with the undercurrents of antebellum southern culture, the book is a savage indictment in which the real criminal is society, and racial prejudice and slavery are the crimes.Written in 1894, "Pudd'nhead Wilson" glistens with characteristic Twain humor, with suspense, and with pointed irony: a gem among the author's later works.
About the Author
Mark Twain, born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, was an American humorist and writer, who is best known for his enduring novels The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which has been called the Great American Novel. Raised in Hannibal, Missouri, Twain held a variety of jobs including typesetter, riverboat pilot, and miner before achieving nationwide attention for his work as a journalist with The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. He earned critical and popular praise for his wit and enjoyed a successful career as a public speaker in addition to his writing. Twain s works were remarkable for his ability to capture colloquial speech, although his adherence to the vernacular of the time has resulted in the suppression of his works by schools in modern times. Twain s birth in 1835 coincided with a visit by Halley s Comet, and Twain predicted, accurately, that he would go out with it as well, dying the day following the comet s return in 1910.
Malcolm Bradbury (1932-2000) was a well-known novelist, critic, and academic whose writing students included Ian McEwan and Kazuo Ishiguro. His previous books include "Eating People is Wrong," "The History Man," "Rates of Exchange," -which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize-and "Doctor Criminale," He was awarded a knighthood in 1999.
Malcolm Bradbury is a novelist, critic, television dramatist and Emeritus Professor of American Studies at the University of East Anglia. He is author of the novels Eating People is Wrong (1959); Stepping Westward (1965); The History Man (1975); which won the Royal Society of Literature Heinemann Prize and was adapted as a famous television series; Rates of Exchange (1983) which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Cuts: A Very Short Novel (1987), also televised; and Doctor Criminale (1992). His critical works include The Modern American Novel (1984; revised edition, 1992); No, Not Bloomsbury (essays, 1987); The Modern world: Ten Great Writers (1988); From Puritanism to Post-modernism: A History of American Literature (with Richard Ruland, 1991) He is the author of a collection of seven stories and nine parodies, entitled Who Do You Think You Are? (1976), and of several works of humour and satire, including Why Come to Slaka? (1986), Unsent Letters (1988; revised edition, 1995) and Mensonge (1987). Many of his books are published by Penguin. In addition, he has written many television plays and the television 'novel' The Gravy Train and The Gravy Train Goes East. He has adapted several television series, including Tom Sharpe's Porterhouse Blue, Kinglsey Amis's The Green Man and Stella Gibbon's' Cold Comfort Farm, now a feature film. Malcolm Bradbury lives in Norwich, travels good deal, and in 1991 he was awarded the CBE.