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Publisher's Summary

Pudd'nhead Wilson, like many other Mark Twain books, was read aloud by the author to his wife and daughters, chapter by chapter, as it was being written.

This humorous, dramatic, and sometimes shocking novel, set in the pre-war south, is the tale of Roxy, a beautiful and intelligent slave woman who contrives to save her own light-skinned child from being "sold down the river". She successfully switches her baby with the master's own child, starting a chain of events that lead to surprising and tragic results.

This book is considered by many to be Mark Twain's best book dealing with the cruelty, horror, and inhumanity of slavery in 19th century America. Pudd'nhead, the title character, not only provides humorous aphorisms and wry observations on the little river town, he also proves to be the catalyst that solves the mystery, radically changing the lives of all of those involved.

Interestingly, Mark Twain's use of fingerprints as evidence in a fictional criminal trial predated the official acceptance of such evidence in actual U.S. courts by two years.

This recording is a recreation of Mark Twain's own reading, just as his family might have heard the story for the first time in the family library.

(P)2003 Richard Henzel

Critic Reviews

"Superb...one of the best readings of a Mark Twain book to which I've ever listened, and I've listened to almost all of them. An energetic and remarkably impassioned narration that brings out the powerful emotions and ironies of one of Mark Twain's complex works and adds new dimensions." (R. Kent Rasmussen, author of Mark Twain A to Z and audiobook reviewer for Library Journal)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
  • Rose
  • Santa Monica, CA, USA
  • 10-28-07

great reader, great tale

I just loved this recording. I wish i could find more of Twains works with this narrator. He does an outstanding job. I would recommend this book to anyone; and in this case, with such an excellent reader, i would rather listen to it than read it off a page--he adds so much.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Phenomenal Read

This was an extremely well-performed, adapted reading of the book. I felt the differences in the character and narrative voices were distinct and added flare to the overall auditory experience.

This book is gripping from beginning to end as Mark Twain developed a thick and interesting plot that laces thought provoking questions and self-reflection throughout.

I would recommend this book for any writer and/or reader.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Good Plot

too often this has happened in the slavery days. unfortunately her motherly love worked against her.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

first rate

Wow, the publisher's summary got it right when they called "Pudd'nhead Wilson" "humorous, dramatic, and sometimes shocking."

Even apart from the commentary on slavery, this is an excellent detective story in its own right. For the interested, in the second paragraph of chapter 25 of "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court," Twain writes a little more about his thoughts on the institution of slavery.

Well worth the listen, disturbing parts and all. In fact, one of the roles of great literature may be to bother us in some way, forcing us to ask questions, jolting us into thought.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Andrea
  • Providence, RI, United States
  • 01-12-11

Terrific performance

I really enjoyed this. The reader does a fabulous job bringing Twain's language and irony to life.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Very Enjoyable

I knew nothing of the storyline before purchasing this book, I just knew that I like Mark Twain and that I could expect to have a good--and thoughtful--time reading it. I wasn't disappointed. Puddn'head Wilson is your basic Prince and the Pauper story centering on race rather than royalty--oh, I guess that should come as no surprise, since Twain wrote the Prince and the Pauper too! I find it amazing that Twain was so progressive in his views in his day, yet in some areas dates himself (as can only be expected) with the views he expresses of "The Slave" in America . . . as a former 8th grade public school teacher, I find myself wondering what offences I might commit if I were to have my students study this novel. Twain is, of course, a master with dialogue and character. A pleasure to spend these several hours listening.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

"Sell Them Down the River"

What the words mean and where the words come from--"Sell them down the river?" I have heard this expression and did not know what it meant until recently. This fabulous book by Mark Twain is full of it. You could miss part of its meaning. As the northern states abolished slavery, the slave owners would sell their slaves into southern states that allowed slavery. Also, free blacks were some times sold as slaves.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Unbelievable

It was a school assignment to begin with, didn't actually had any interest; yet the deeper I went into the story, the more it would hold my eyes.
Truly a unique story. Loved it!

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Mollie
  • United States
  • 07-03-15

Highly romanticized

Would you try another book from Mark Twain and/or Richard Henzel?

Yes to both

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

Predictable

Which character – as performed by Richard Henzel – was your favorite?

Puddn'head Wilson

Do you think Pudd'nhead Wilson needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

No. Twain has been dead 105 years.

Any additional comments?

I had to read this book for a program I am attending through the National Endowment for the Humanities, so I am looking at it from an academic point. I thought I remembered the main points of the book from an earlier reading, but I did not, so listening to it has been helpful. Unfortunately, the plot to this book featuring a murderer in disguise is too similar to another one I just finished: Charles Chesnutt's The Marrow of Tradition. Twain's book was released four years before Chesnutt's and has the better plot, but it is not a memorable work. However, the narration was great.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Benjamin
  • Orange, CA, United States
  • 03-15-13

Loved the story and the narrator was perfect

Any additional comments?

Love the play and insight into the human psyche, Mark Twain's humor and wittiness is well brought out by the narrator whose voice has a southern feel to it that fits what you would imagine a book by Mark Twain to sound like when read aloud. The narrator really makes a difference as to how the audible book comes across.