The first book to be appraised will be a first edition of Mark Twain's "Pudd'nhead Wilson
In Pudd'nhead Wilson
, Twain wrote October: This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks.
Since I teach in a communication studies program rather than an English department, I have an opportunity to help students see Mark Twain from an unfamiliar angle, as a rhetorical performer, so we read his anti-imperialist polemics and some of the sillier burlesques (my current favorite is "Mamie Grant, Child Missionary"), and maybe a short novel that they haven't heard of, such as Pudd'nhead Wilson
. The one time I taught a course on Mark Twain, I focused it on satire and set myself the task of teaching it almost entirely from Budd's two-volume Modern Library Collected Tales, Sketches and without Huckleberry Finn.
From unreliably identifying birthmarks in the 1845 suit brought by Salome Muller, who claimed to be a free, German-born woman kidnapped into slavery; through an early use of a "disability con" in Herman Melville's 1857 novel, The Confidence Man: His Masquerade; to the use of fingerprinting to settle a case of racial misidentification in Mark Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson
(1894); to twentieth-century attempts to "biocertify" claims to Native American or Hawaiian identity through "blood quantum" measurements; and finally, to current debates over sex testing in sports, things always seems to get complicated.
* "Behold, the fool saith, 'Put not all thine eggs in the one basket'-which is but a matter of saying, 'Scatter your money and your attention'; but the wise man saith, 'Pull all your eggs in the one basket and-WATCH THAT BASKET."--Mark Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson
Blyn's first chapter offers an innovative approach to Mark Twain's conjoined narratives "Those Extraordinary Twins" and Pudd'nhead Wilson
. Whereas Twain's Capello brothers--one fair, one dark, having different characters but sharing a single body below the chest--have long been read as figures for an America divided by race or by civil war, Blyn emphasizes their relevance to the institution of corporate personhood, which had been affirmed by the Supreme Court in Santa Clara v.
Her first chapter looks at the nineteenth century precursors to the disability narratives at the center of the book with an analysis of Pudd'nhead Wilson
and Those Extraordinary Twins.
Since so much of scholarly editing is occluded work, let me, for a moment, play Pudd'nhead Wilson
and explicate what these fingerprints imply about the editor's hidden hand.
All five plays, Jelly Belly, Knock Me a Kiss, Pudd'nhead Wilson
, A Free Man of Color, and The Gospel According to James, explore racism and other painful issues with intelligence, frankness, urgency, humanity, and a skill for keeping the audience absorbed till the final curtain falls.
I am also a great admirer of Mark Twain, particularly his novel Pudd'nhead Wilson
, where racial and cultural identities are turned inside-out.
Local town folk in the story misunderstood his "clever" remark, and he was branded "Pudd'nhead Wilson
," a nitwit.
by Mark Twain, The Group by Mary McCarthy, Brida by Paulo Coelho, and Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel were among our less favorite selections.