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Pudd'nhead Wilson and Those Extraordinary Twins


Pudd'nhead Wilson and Those Extraordinary Twins


“Every human being carries with him from his cradle to his grave certain physical marks which do not change their character, and by which he can always be identified…”

Those Extraordinary Twins was published as a short story, separate and distinct from its origins inside Mark Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson.

Mark Twain’s timeless Pudd’nhead Wilson began as a farce called Those Extraordinary Twins, about Siamese twins — two different temperaments inseparably connected in one body —and wound up becoming an irony about two babies — one slave, one free — switched in their cradles.

One of the most beloved of Mark Twain’s works, the setting is the Missouri frontier town of Dawson’s Landing, a village nestled between St. Louis and the mighty Mississippi, in the first half of the 19th century.

In Dawson’s Landing, a fair-skinned slave nanny, Roxy (owned by Judge Driscoll’s brother), switches at birth Judge Driscoll’s nephew, Tom, with her own enslaved boy, Chambers.

Twain asks the question: What happens when a child born free—and a child born a slave—change places?  

Soon, his acid pen and eye for hypocrisy are in full force.

Those Extraordinary Twins, continues the saga after the plot concludes in Pudd’nhead Wilson by examining the fate of the conjoined twins Angelo and Luigi Capello, who became principal suspects in Judge Driscoll’s murder.

The result is a biting social commentary with enduring relevance, and a good old-fashioned murder mystery.

Seething with the undercurrents of colonial southern culture, the book is a fierce indictment in which the real criminal is society, and racial prejudice and slavery are the crimes.

MARK TWAIN (1835-1910) Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. Author of numerous essays, short stories, and novels, including The Prince and the Pauper, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, hailed by Ernest Hemingway as “the Great American Novel.”

“The masterly work of a great writer.”

-F.R. Leavis


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