Archive for the ‘Pudd’nhead Wilson’ Category

Mark-Twain2On Monday, October 7th, the Booked for the Day Book Group met to discuss the book Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain. Here are a few of the comments made during the meeting:

Everyone in the group thought the dialect was difficult to understand. Most of us had to re-read the passages several times.

In our discussion today we talked about “Nature versus Nurture” and most of us thought that Tom’s (Chambers) overindulgent upbringing was responsible for his flaws and failures. He definitely had a sense of entitlement that was fostered in him by his Father, Aunt and Uncle. In addition, Roxy’s favoritism toward Tom over Chambers did not help him to become a better man.

We talked about the role of Roxy in the switching of the babies and the fact that there were no repercussions for her. She essentially destroyed Chamber’s (Tom) life and yet he still was willing to give her a monthly allowance. We talked about how some children are still devoted to their parents no matter what they did.

There was a lot of discussion about the fact that Tom (Chambers) got away with murder. Since he was considered property, the murder charge was waived and he was sold down river. This was in the year 1853, the Civil War was from 1861-65 so Tom was a slave for possibly 8-12 years and then he probably was set free.

We talked about the difference between a slave in the town and being sold down river.

We laughed at Roxy’s comment to Tom, “what would your father think?” since Tom’s father never acknowledged him while he was alive, what made Roxy think Tom would care what he thought.

Some of us thought that Tom and Chambers had the same father and that is why Roxy was able to switch them so easily. We were all surprised when we learned he was not the father.

Another theme of the book is a very early look at the use of forensic evidence in detective work. In 1830, the time period of the book, fingerprinting was a completely foreign concept. But in 1890 when the book was written, Dr. Henry Faulds had just published an article in the Scientific Journal, “Nature” and was credited with the first finger print identification of a greasy finger print left on an alcohol bottle.

The comment was made about Percy Driscoll, that he is humane towards “slaves and other animals” which really brought home the darker side of our American history.

One of our members asked if we thought that a book like this could be written in this day and age. No one thought it would, even though the language used in the story was the language of the day.

We talked about Wilson’s comment on owning half the dog which seemed odd until you read Twain’s original short story, Those Extraordinary Twins.

We read some of our favorite calendar quotes.

Nobody thought that they would recommend this particular Mark Twain book.

These are just of few things mentioned during the discussion. Please feel free to add any of your thoughts in the comment section.


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puddinheadJoin us to discuss…

Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain

Monday, October 7th
11:00 am
Meeting Room B

At the beginning of Pudd’nhead Wilson a young slave woman, fearing for her infant son’s life, exchanges her light-skinned child with her master’s. From this rather simple premise Mark Twain fashioned one of his most entertainingly funny, yet biting novels.

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pwpros01As a promotional gimmick, for the book Pudd’nhead Wilson, The Century Magazine, (who bought the rights to the novel for $6500 from Twain) put together a pocket calendar for 1894.  The tiny pamphlet featured one of Pudd’nhead’s ironic aphorisms for each month in the year. It was so popular that a reprinting was done and two slightly different versions of the Calendar is in the Mark Twain Barrett Collection. Take a look if you have a chance. It is pretty amusing. The book was originally published in America, on 28 November 1894, as The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson and the Comedy of Those Extraordinary Twins.

Courtesy of a collection in The Clifton Waller Barrett Library, Special Collections,The University of Virginia Library

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For you Kindle, Nook, and IPad readers you can get a copy of our next book from Project Gutenberg.  Just search “The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson Project Gutenberg” in your browser.


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