Switched at birth by a young slave woman attempting to protect her son from the horrors of slavery, a light-skinned infant changes places with the master's white son. This simple premise is the basis of "Pudd'nhead Wilson, " a compelling drama that contains all the elements of a classic 19th-century mystery: reversed identities, a ghastly crime, an eccentric detective, and a tense courtroom scene. First published in 1894, Twain's novel bristles with suspense. David "Pudd nhead" Wilson, a wise but unorthodox lawyer who collects fingerprints as a hobby, wins back the respect of his townspeople when he solves a local murder in which two foreigners are falsely accused. Witty and absorbing, this novel features a literary first the use of fingerprinting to solve a crime. This gem was Twain's last novel about the antebellum South; and despite its frequent injections of humor, it offers a fierce condemnation of racial prejudice and a society that condoned slavery.
About the Author
Shelley Fisher Fishkin is Joseph S. Atha Professor of Humanities, Professor of English and Director of American Studies at Stanford University. She is the author of "Lighting Out for the Territory: Reflections on Mark Twain and American Culture "(1997); "Was Huck Black? Mark Twain and African-American Voices "(1993), selected as an Outstanding Academic Book by "Choice; "and "From Fact to Fiction: Journalism and Imaginative Writing in America "(2000), winner of a Frank Luther Mott/Kappa Tau Alpha Award for outstanding research in journalism history. She is also the editor of the 29-volume "Oxford Mark Twain "and the "Oxford Historical Guide to Mark Twain. "Barry Moser is one of the foremost wood engravers in the United States and is the proprietor of the Pennyroyal Press. Among other books, he illustrated "Huckleberry Finn "(California, 1985), "Moby Dick "(California, 1981), "Dante's Inferno "(California 1980), "Purgatorio "(California, 1981), and "Paradiso "(California, 1984), and the "Holy Bible "(1999). The Mark Twain Project is housed within the Mark Twain Papers, the world's largest archive of primary materials by this major American writer. Under the direction of General Editor Robert H. Hirst, the Project's five editors are producing the first comprehensive edition of all Mark Twain's writings, more than thirty volumes of which have so far been published by the University of California Press.