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Pudd’nhead Wilson

Mark Twain


Pudd’nhead Wilson is a thought-provoking novel set in the fictional town of Dawson’s Landing, Missouri. The story revolves around the peculiar character of David Wilson, known as “Pudd’nhead” Wilson, a quirky and eccentric young lawyer with the unusual hobby of collecting fingerprints. As he experiments with this new forensic science, Wilson becomes entangled in the lives of two infants, Tom Driscoll, the son of a wealthy local family, and Chambers, a slave child. Due to a mix-up during infancy, the two boys’ lives take drastically different paths, with Tom growing up as the heir to a fortune, and Chambers living the life of a slave.

The novel weaves a complex narrative that intertwines the lives of the two switched infants, the townspeople of Dawson’s Landing, and the enigmatic Wilson. Twain’s sharp wit and satirical prowess illustrates the story’s social commentary on race and the examination of the consequences of the switch. The characters face moral dilemmas, and as the story unfolds, the consequences of their actions come to a head in a dramatic and tragic climax.

Pudd’nhead Wilson serves as a thought-provoking exploration of societal norms and the impact of identity on the human experience. It was first serialized in The Century Magazine in 1893–1894, then published as a book by Charles L. Webster & Co. in 1894.

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