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Pudd'nhead Wilson: 05/08/07
I picked up Sixteen Short Novels at the September BookCrossing meeting last year. Yes; I went a week postpartum and Harriet went too. My goal is to read and review each of these short novels but if I do it all at once I'll only get this one massive book read for quite some time. Instead, I'll concentrate on each novel separately and count each one as its own book just as I did for the four novellas in Four Past Midnight. At that rate I figure I can read about three of these short novels a month and I should have the book ready for release by Harriet's first birthday.
Mark Twain is one of my favorite authors but I am not overly fond of his southern dialect novels. In fact me least favorite of his works are Huckleberry Finn and Pudd'nhead Wilson. Both these books are important pieces of American literature and draw attention to underbelly of Southern society. But I still don't like them.
That being said, Puddin'head isn't the protagonist of the novel which bears his name. He is a stand in for Twain. He's the social bumpkin who refuses to take part in "polite" Southern society. He is the Greek chorus to this tragedy.
The actual protogranists are Tom and Chambers. They share the same birthday and are nearly identical. There's only one problem: Tom is white and Chambers is black (although he's light skinned enough to pass as white). In an act of deseperation to save her son from being "sold down the river", Chamber's mother (and Tom's wet nurse), switches her son for Tom (the master's son).
The rest of the book is the unfolding results of this initial switching. It's a story of nature vs. nurture. But this morality tale is sloppily and hastily written. While it avoids the heavy melodrama of Uncle Tom's Cabin.
Comment #1: Thursday, May, 17, 2007 at 15:10:33
"That's one of the most interesting takes on the book that I've seen. Neat insight!"
Comment #2: Thursday, May, 17, 2007 at 12:15:18
"The meeting is only five (maybe eight) miles away. My husband did all the driving. I just had to sit and enjoy seeing my friends and of course showing off Harriet!"
"Really? Online since 1997? REALLY? That's got to be a record."
"Yes indeed! August 2 will be my 10th anniversary. I've been doing web design since 1995 but have only had this site since 1997."