|Books, Forthcoming Media, Novels, Passing, United States on 2016-02-03 03:24Z by Steven|
2016-02-15 (Originally Published in 1894)
Paperback ISBN: 9781554812660
Hsuan L. Hsu, Associate Professor of English
University of California, Davis
The two narratives published together in The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson and the Comedy of Those Extraordinary Twins are overflowing with spectacular events. Twain shows us conjoined twins, babies exchanged in the cradle, acts of cross-dressing and racial masquerade, duels, a lynching, and a murder mystery. Pudd’head Wilson tells the story of babies, one of mixed race and the other white, exchanged in their cradles, while Those Extraordinary Twins is a farcical tale of conjoined twins. Although the stories were long viewed as flawed narratives, their very incongruities offer a fascinating portrait of key issues—race, disability, and immigration—facing the United States in the final decades of the nineteenth century.
Hsuan Hsu’s introduction traces the history of literary critics’ response to these works, from the confusion of Twain’s contemporaries to the keen interest of current scholars. Extensive historical appendices provide contemporary materials on race discourse, legal contexts, and the composition and initial reception of the texts.