The Prince and the Pauper (Puffin Classics) Paperback – 1 Dec 1994
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Twain was . . . enough of a genius to build his morality into his books, with humor and wit and in the case of "The Prince and the Pauper" wonderful plotting. E. L. Doctorow"
From the Inside Flap
Set in sixteenth-century England, Mark Twain's classic "tale for young people of all ages" features two identical-looking boys--a prince and a pauper--who trade clothes and step into each other's lives. While the urchin, Tom Canty, discovers luxury and power, Prince Edward, dressed in rags, roams his kingdom and experiences the cruelties inflicted on the poor by the Tudor monarchy. As Christopher Paul Curtis observes in his Introduction, "The Prince and the Pauper is "funny, adventurous, and exciting, yet also chock-full of . . . exquisitely reasoned harangues against society's ills."
This Modern Library Paperback Classic is set from the Mark Twain Project edition, which is the approved text of the Center for Scholarly Editions of the Modern Language Association. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Once I had recovered from the shock of seeing Henry and his children all getting along like The Waltons on a good day (except that awful Bloody Mary, of course - Boo! Hiss!), I enjoyed this fable. A mixture of 'clothes maketh the man' and 'the grass is always greener', Twain uses his set-up to show the social divisions and injustices of Tudor society. Tom finds the affairs of state and trappings of ceremony weigh heavily on him, and sometimes wishes for the freedom of his old life. Edward meantime learns how the poor sink into criminality and vice and sees the cruelty of the punishments they are subjected to. Tom's story is fairly light-hearted, but Edward has to face some dark and dangerous moments in this world that is so different from anything he has known before.
Given the fairy-tale nature of the book, Twain manages to get in a lot of real history, though warped where necessary to meet his purposes, and paints what feels like a fairly accurate picture of life at the time, especially for the poor. He occasionally goes over the top in his descriptions of court ceremony but this is for deliberate comic effect - one gets the distinct feeling that Twain may not have been a huge fan of monarchy!Read more ›
This book gives a fair picture of England in the 16th century, worth a Defoe or a Swift: the immense chasm between the rich and the poor, a heavily biased and corrupt judicial system and extremely cruel punishment. `It was a crime to be hungry in England.'
People were hanged for trifling larcenies and slowly boiled for alleged poisoning. `Witches' were burnt at the stake: `My good old blameless mother strove to earn bread by nursing the sick; one of these died, the doctors knew not how, so my mother was burnt for a witch, whilst my babes looked on and wailed ... drink to the merciful English law that delivered her from the English hell!'
The rich chased their farmers away by foreclosures (changing farms in sheep ranges), making instantly beggars of them. They risked heavily to be sold as slaves.
This book is a bittersweet Breughelian comedy about human injustice, cruelty and ultimately generosity.
Not to be missed.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This fantasy holds the reader's attention and gives an insight into life in Tudor times.Published 13 months ago by Norman Lloyd-Edwards