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
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.
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.