Title: The Prince and the Pauper
Author: Mark Twain
Genre: Classic Historical Fiction
Pages: 253
Rating: 3 of 5

In A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court Mark Twain wrote scathing satire of medieval England. In this historical fiction (written earlier than Yankee) he pokes gentle fun at the pampered life of royals and points out the barbaric harshness of Tudor punishments, but his overall tone is much lighter…almost cutesy.

This kinder, gentler Twain felt a bit flat to me. A lot of the historical “color” consisted in paraphrasing or outright quoting chunks of historical documents that described the clothing and royal ceremonies of Tudor England. The well-known “identical strangers switch places” plot wasn’t especially believable, but it lets Twain look at different aspects of society through the eyes of outsiders and has some nice little dramatic tension at the end.

Sometimes I find Twain’s caustic wit in other books to be a bit much, but I prefer it to this book. Overall, I think I would have enjoyed The Prince and the Pauper a lot more when I was a child. As it is, I’m using this as my “Book from the Americas (author or topic)” category over at the Back to the Classics ChallengeSeven categories down; Five to go!

5 thoughts on “Second Tier Twain

  1. It’s so funny that this is Twain’s perhaps least read novel when it might be his most well known. The Prince and the Pauper is so ingrained into American society that you can’t find a kid’s cartoon without this plot. It’s included in a lot of fairy tale picture books even! Everyone knows it, but no one has read it.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m a big enough Tolkien fanboy that we might disagree on what constitutes tier-2 for him…though I’m not super fond of the ones that are loaded down with Christopher Tolkien’s editorial notes 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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