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Barbara Schmidt <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 30 Apr 2024 07:17:24 -0500
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 _Pudd'nhead Wilson: Manuscript and Revised Versions, with "Those
Extraordinary Twins_." Edited by Benjamin Griffin. University of California
Press, 2024. Pp. 872. Hardcover: $85.00, ISBN 9780520398092. Paperback:
$19.95, ISBN 9780520398108.

 Many books reviewed on the Mark Twain Forum are available at discounted
prices from the Twain Web Bookstore. Purchases from this site generate
commissions that benefit the Mark Twain Project. Please visit <>

Reviewed for the Mark Twain Forum by:
Barbara Schmidt

 Copyright (c) 2024 Mark Twain Forum. This review may not be published or
redistributed in any medium without permission.

The release of the Works of Mark Twain edition of _Pudd'nhead Wilson_ from
the Mark Twain Project is the highlight of the 2024 publishing year for
Mark Twain scholarship. If you add only one book to your Mark Twain
research library this year, as of today, this is the one. It is time to
retire those Norton Critical Editions from the 1980s and 2000s. This
edition is founded on the bedrock of the original 1892 handwritten,
81,500-word manuscript now known as the "Morgan manuscript" that has never
been previously published intact. Samuel Clemens himself referred to it as
the "original extravaganza." It is called the Morgan manuscript because
Clemens sold it in 1909 to financier J. Pierpont Morgan and it is now
housed in the Morgan Library and Museum in New York.

Also included in this Works edition, is the 52,000-word revised version
that most readers are familiar with that was serialized in _Century
Magazine_ in 1893-94. The unauthorized changes implemented by _Century_
editors are rejected in this volume but are noted in the Textual Apparatus
section. This edition also includes "Those Extraordinary Twins"--the
material that was excised from a typescript of the Morgan manuscript,
revised and later sold to Clemens's former publisher Frank Bliss of
American Publishing Company.

Mark Twain Project Editor Benjamin Griffin makes a strong case that Clemens
considered the Morgan manuscript version complete, had a typewritten copy
of it made, and ready for printing before financial constraints halted its
publication by his own firm Webster and Company. In a desperate need for
cash, Clemens pulled that typescript apart and revised it for magazine
publication. The Siamese twins in the Morgan manuscript version would no
longer be conjoined, but have separate bodies. Clemens described his work
as a "literary Caesarean operation" (p. 353). The $6,500 Clemens received
for the revised _Century_ version, the equivalent of about $200,000 today,
provided a much needed cash infusion for the Clemens family. Frank Bliss
paid an additional $1,500 for book publication rights that would include
the excised material (that Clemens had again revised) for a book to be sold
by subscription that he would title _The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson and
the Comedy Those Extraordinary Twins_.

In a 102-page Introduction to the texts, Editor Benjamin Griffin has
established himself as a genius at tracing literary genealogy as he details
the "tortuous history" of the story's composition and how each change and
revision came to be made and the reasons behind them. Griffin includes a
flow chart of the "Phases of Composition" during 1892 and the equivalent of
a literary family tree of "Textual Transmission" as typists, typesetters,
editors and publishers manipulated and made unauthorized and accidental

Throughout its composition and publishing history, Griffin details where
Sam Clemens was, who he saw and who he corresponded with regarding the
work. The folly of the revised versions and the surviving "vestigial" from
the original work are discussed in detail. Griffin and his team of
contributing editors Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Lisa Cardyn, Kerry Driscoll
and  Harriet Elinor Smith have managed to put the puzzle pieces together
that have evaded at least three previous editors of this proposed volume
since the mid-1960s. Also included in the Introduction is a discussion of
the critical reception to both magazine and book publication; how and why
the edition of Chatto and Windus, Clemens's publisher in England, ended up
with slightly different text; the influence of Henry Huttleston Rogers on
publication strategies; and theatrical and cinematic adaptations along with
advertising posters and photographic stills.

Unlike _Huckleberry Finn_, there are no loveable or sympathetic
protagonists in _Pudd'nhead Wilson_. The original Morgan manuscript
intertwines two stories. Two male babies who could pass for twins in
infancy--Tom Driscoll, white, and Chambers, a mixed-race baby--are switched
in their cradles by Chambers's mother Roxy to save him from a fate of
slavery. Jumping forward about twenty years, Siamese twins (Luigi, with
dark complexion and devilish personality and Angelo, blonde with an angelic
personality) arrive from Europe and amaze the local villagers with their
freakish but handsome features and opposing personalities. Amidst this
backdrop is the character of attorney David "Pudd'nhead" Wilson who has a
hobby of collecting fingerprints of all the villagers over the years.
Wilson ends up solving a scandalous murder mystery and revealing the baby
switching plot using his fingerprint collection in a stunning courtroom

In addressing the critical heritage of _Pudd'nhead Wilson_, Griffin points
out that since the 1950s and 60s the story began attracting scholarly
interest with its "treatment of the nature/nurture question in connection
with racial vice and virtue . . ." (p. 597). Griffin also classifies the
story as an attempt to parody the tragic-mulatto melodrama popularized in
the 1850s by turning it on its head--with an evil mulatto as opposed to a
sympathetic one. The racial issues presented in _Pudd'nhead Wilson_ run
deeper and are more profound than those in _Adventures of Huckleberry
Finn_. Griffin is up front in advising readers in a separate preface to the
text titled "Offensive Language in Pudd'nhead Wilson" that the text
contains 165 instances of the "nuclear bomb" N word that is used in
depicting situations and dialogue that are examples of habitual, rancorous,
and even playful usages. He points out the distinction between these voices
of the characters and Mark Twain's own authorial voice when he, as the
narrator, speaks out.

Throughout the original manuscript version, Clemens deleted numerous
passages and these are revealed in the Textual Apparatus section. Some
passages, such as those assigning actions and attitudes about slavery to
Percy Driscoll, Tom's father, appear to be based on Clemens's memories of
his own father. He struck out the passage, "But he and his ancestors had
always been slave-holders, and habit and heredity had made it impossible
for him to realize that a negro was a human being" (p. 629). Other deleted
passages are designed to shock and one wonders if they were originally
intended to stun and entertain Clemens's wife Livy who often made him
delete unsavory passages. For example, when the adult Tom Driscoll
discovers he is the switched mixed-race baby, he rages, "I must be the same
careless, slangy, useless youth as before, outside, but inside I shall be a
nigger with a grievance--with all that implies of hate and absence of shame
..." (p. 665). Perhaps a long, deleted passage (p. 685) with an apparent
psychopathic Tom Driscoll laughingly torturing spiders and a grasshopper in
vivid detail was also meant for Livy's eyes only.

The illustrations in this edition are those by Louis Loeb that appeared in
the _Century_ serialization. One of the reasons for this choice is that
Clemens saw and approved Loeb's illustrations prior to their publication.
There is no evidence he approved the illustrations American Publishing
Company commissioned by Frank M. Senior and Calvin H. Warren, although
samples of their work are included and showcase crude racist caricatures.
To have totally excluded them from this volume would have amounted to
"whitewashing" racist attitudes that went into marketing the first book
edition. Also included are samples of illustrations by Edward Kemble that
were used when American Publishing Company issued an 1899 edition for a
multi-volume collection of Mark Twain's works.

The texts feature "Explanatory Notes" throughout that give historical
perspective and definitions. Textual Apparatus entries illustrate various
edits made by Clemens himself as well as his editors. Appendix items
include "Mark Twain's Working Notes" featuring his Notebook 32 that
contains many unused aphorisms for the "Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar"
chapter headings. A facsimile of "Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar for 1894"--a
promotional item from _Century Magazine_ from the Kevin Mac Donnell
collection--is featured in a separate Appendix. Also presented is the
"Contract with the American Publishing Company" giving them the right to
publish and retitle the book along with the discarded "Those Extraordinary
Twins" fragment. Finally, the working notes from 1883 or 1884 titled "The
Man with Negro Blood" are featured and indicate that the social
implications of mixed race was a topic that Clemens contemplated for many

This 2024 volume, identified on the first page as _The Works of Mark Twain_
Volume 10 _Pudd'nhead Wilson_ gives a hint to its historical background.
Works volumes were first issued as Iowa-California editions with numerous
volumes planned. Volume number 10 was assigned to _Pudd'nhead Wilson_ as an
indication of the approximate chronological order in which it was
originally published. A complete Works set does not yet exist. Stringent
guidelines for textual analysis must be adhered to before the volumes can
receive the Modern Language Associations "Approved Edition: Committee on
Scholarly Editions" seal which is featured on the copyright page. These
volumes are funded in part with grants from the National Endowment of the
Humanities. As such, these editions are made available free of charge to
the public via the Mark Twain Project website simultaneously with the print
publication that is offered for sale.

In conclusion, April 30, 2024, the release date for this new volume, is a
red-letter day for Mark Twain scholarship and the Mark Twain Project and
their ongoing Works of Mark Twain editions.