Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Part 2,The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson, Mark Twain, 1894,,

It was never obvious where the author was on the social issues of the day. Roxy, the main character, was described as blond and as white skinned as a Norwegian but was a slave in all other senses of the word. (Based on her 1/16th lineage). Was Twain ridiculing the conventions and laws necessary for slavery to be perpetuated or has he declined to pass judgment on the morality of the issue? Although uneducated, Roxy was perhaps the smartest character portrayed here. Irony or derision? The book was written 40 years after the War of Northern Aggression when the question of slavery should have decided. When Twain wrote this book, slavery was already banned in the English-speaking world. The Slave trade was made illegal in the British Empire after 1833. (see my John Newton Amazing Grace, April 2010, Theoretically, banned In the US after 1863??(emancipation proclamation???) The ?because it was said the proclamation banned slavery where it was already illegal, the northern states, and could not be enforced where slavery was legal, the southern states.
Here are some of my favorite citations from the book:
After discovery of some missing money, Mr. Driscoll brought the staff together to find a guilty party and a confession:
“None had stolen anything -- not money, anyway -- a little sugar, or cake, or honey, or something like that, that "Marse Percy wouldn't mind or miss" but not money -- never a cent of money. They were eloquent in their protestations, but Mr. Driscoll was not moved by them. He answered each in turn with a stern "Name the thief!"
The truth was, all were guilty but Roxana; she suspected that the others were guilty, but she did not know them to be so. She was horrified to think how near she had come to being guilty herself; she had been saved in the nick of time by a revival in the colored Methodist Church, a fortnight before, at which time and place she "got religion." The very next day after that gracious experience, while her change of style was fresh upon her and she was vain of her purified
condition, her master left a couple dollars unprotected on his desk, and she happened upon that temptation when she was polishing around with a dustrag. She looked at the money awhile with a steady rising resentment, then she burst out with:
"Dad blame dat revival, I wisht it had 'a' be'n put off till tomorrow!"
Then she covered the tempter with a book, and another member of the kitchen cabinet got it. She made this sacrifice as a matter of religious etiquette; as a thing necessary just now, but by no means to be wrested into a precedent; no, a week or two would limber up her piety, then she would be rational again, and the next two dollars that got left out in the cold would find a comforter -- and she could name the comforter.”

Very timely advice for 2009:
October. This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks in. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August, and February.
-- Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar

Yoda did not say it first:
He laughed and said he was going to try, anyway. She did not unbend. She said gravely:
"Tryin' ain't de thing. You's gwine to do it.

If the prose and writing were not enough, Lawyers take a lot of hits from Twain. Always makes for good reading if lawyers are taking heat. If you can find this book, read it. Perfect summer reading when the news of creeping socialism makes your head want to explode with anger. It is available in ebook formats everywhere. I doubt you could find a hard copy except through Amazon.
Next "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse"

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