Item description for The Prince and the Pauper (Bantam Classics) by Mark Twain...
Overview A poor London boy and a wealthy young prince who share an uncanny resemblance get the opportunity to appreciate each other's life firsthand, when they switch places, in a story set against the backdrop of sixteenth-century Tudor England. Reissue.
Publishers Description Rich with surprise and hilarious adventure, The Prince and the Pauper is a delightful satire of England's romantic past and a joyful boyhood romp filled with the same tongue-in-cheek irony that sparks the best of Mark Twain's tall tales. Two boys, one an urchin from London's filthy lanes, the other a prince born in a lavish palace, unwittingly trade identities. Thus a bedraggled “Prince of Poverty” discovers that his private dreams have all come true—while a pampered Prince of Wales finds himself tossed into a rough-and-tumble world of squalid beggars and villainous thieves. Originally written as a story for children, The Prince and the Pauper is a classic novel for adults as well—through its stinging attack on the ageless human folly of attempting to measure true worth by outer appearances.
“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
Mark Twain, born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in 1835, led one of the most exciting of literary lives. Raised in the river town of Hannibal, Missouri, Twain had to leave school at age 12 and was successively a journeyman printer, a steamboat pilot, a halfhearted Confederate soldier, and a prospector, miner, and reporter in the western territories. His experiences furnished him with a wide knowledge of humanity, as well as with the perfect grasp of local customs and speech which manifests itself in his writing.
With the publication in 1865 of The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, Twain gained national attention as a frontier humorist, and the bestselling Innocents Abroad solidified his fame. But it wasn't until Life on the Mississippi (1883), and finally, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), that he was recognized by the literary establishment as one of the greatest writers America would ever produce.
Toward the end of his life, plagued by personal tragedy and financial failure, Twain grew more and more pessimistic—an outlook not alleviated by his natural skepticism and sarcasm. Though his fame continued to widen—Yale & Oxford awarded him honorary degrees—Twain spent his last years in gloom and exasperation, writing fables about "the damned human race." Chapter One
The Birth of the Prince and the Pauper
In the ancient city of London, on a certain autumn day in the second quarter of the sixteenth century, a boy was born to a poor family of the name of Canty, who did not want him. On the same day another English child was born to a rich family of the name of Tudor, who did want him. All England wanted him, too. England had so longed for him, and hoped for him, and prayed God for him, that now that he was really come, the people went nearly mad for joy. Mere acquaintances hugged and kissed each other and cried; everybody took a holiday, and high and low, rich and poor, feasted and danced, and sang, and got very mellow?and they kept this up for days and nights together. By day, London was a sight to see, with gay banners waving from every balcony and house-top, and splendid pageants marching along. By night it was again a sight to see, with its great bonfires at every corner and its troops of revelers making merry around them. There was no talk in all England but of the new baby, Edward Tudor, Prince of Wales, who lay lapped in silks and satins, unconscious of all this fuss, and not knowing that great lords and ladies were tending him and watching over him?and not caring, either. But there was no talk about the other baby, Tom Canty, lapped in his poor rags, except among the family of paupers whom he had just come to trouble with his presence.
Tom's Early Life
Let us skip a number of years.
London was fifteen hundred years old, and was a great town-for that day. It had a hundred thousand inhabitants-some think double as many. The streets were very narrow, and crooked, and dirty, especially in the part where Tom Canty lived, which was not far from London Bridge. The houses were of wood, with the second story projecting over the first, and the third sticking its elbows out beyond the second. The higher the houses grew, the broader they grew. They were skeletons of strong criss-cross beams, with solid material between, coated with plaster. The beams were painted red or blue or black, according to the owner's taste, and this gave the houses a very picturesque look. The windows were small, glazed with little diamond-shaped panes, and they opened outward, on hinges, like doors.
The house which Tom's father lived in was up a foul little pocket called Offal Court, out of Pudding Lane. It was small, decayed, and ricketty, but it was packed full of wretchedly poor families. Canty's tribe occupied a room on the third floor. The mother and father had a sort of bedstead in the corner, but Tom, his grandmother, and his two sisters, Bet and Nan, were not restricted-they had all the floor to themselves, and might sleep where they chose. There were the remains of a blanket or two and some bundles of ancient and dirty straw, but these could not rightly be called beds, for they were not organized; they were kicked into a general pile, mornings, and selections made from the mass at night, for service.
Bet and Nan were fifteen years old-twins. They were good-hearted girls, unclean, clothed in rags, and profoundly ignorant. Their mother was like them. But the father and the grandmother were a couple of fiends. They got drunk whenever they could; then they fought each other or anybody else who came in the way; they cursed and swore always, drunk or sober; John Canty was a thief, and his mother a beggar. They made beggars of the children, but failed to make thieves of them. Among, but not of, the dreadful rabble that inhabited the house, was a good old priest whom the king had turned out of house and home with a pension of a few farthings, and he used to get the children aside and teach them right ways secretly. Father Andrew also taught Tom a little Latin, and how to read and write; and would have done the same with the girls, but they were afraid of the jeers of their friends, who could not have endured such a queer accomplishment in them.
All Offal Court was just such another hive as Canty's house. Drunkenness, riot and brawling were the order, there, every night and nearly all night long. Broken heads were as common as hunger in that place. Yet little Tom was not unhappy. He had a hard time of it, but did not know it. It was the sort of time that all the Offal Court boys had, therefore he supposed it was the correct and comfortable thing. When he came home empty handed at night, he knew his father would curse him and thrash him first, and that when he was done the awful grandmother would do it all over again and improve on it; and that away in the night his starving mother would slip to him stealthily with any miserable scrap or crust she had been able to save for him by going hungry herself, notwithstanding she was often caught in that sort of treason and soundly beaten for it by her husband.
No, Tom's life went along well enough, especially in summer. He only begged just enough to save himself, for the laws against mendicancy were stringent, and the penalties heavy; so he put in a good deal of his time listening to good Father Andrew's charming old tales and legends about giants and fairies, dwarfs and genii, and enchanted castles, and gorgeous kings and princes. His head grew to be full of these wonderful things, and many a night as he lay in the dark on his scant and offensive straw, tired, hungry, and smarting from a thrashing, he unleashed his imagination and soon forgot his aches and pains in delicious picturings to himself of the charmed life of a petted prince in a regal palace. One desire came in time to haunt him day and night: it was, to see a real prince, with his own eyes. He spoke of it once to some of his Offal Court comrades; but they jeered him and scoffed him so unmercifully that he was glad to keep his dream to himself after that.
He often read the priest's old books and got him to explain and enlarge upon them. His dreamings and readings worked certain changes in him, by and by. His dream-people were so fine that he grew to lament his shabby clothing and his dirt, and to wish to be clean and better clad. He went on playing in the mud just the same, and enjoying it, too; but instead of splashing around in the Thames solely for the fun of it, he began to find an added value in it because of the washings and cleansings it afforded.
Tom could always find something going on around the May-pole in Cheapside, and at the fairs, and now and then he and the rest of London had a chance to see a military parade when some famous unfortunate was carried prisoner to the Tower, by land or boat. One summer's day he saw poor Anne Askew and three men burned at the stake in Smithfield, and heard an ex-Bishop preach a sermon to them which did not interest him. Yes, Tom's life was varied and pleasant enough, on the whole.
By and by Tom's reading and dreaming about princely life wrought such a strong effect upon him that he began to act the prince, unconsciously. His speech and manners became curiously ceremonious and courtly, to the vast admiration and amusement of his intimates. But Tom's influence among these young people began to grow, now, day by day; and in time he came to be looked up to, by them, with a sort of wondering awe, as a superior being. He seemed to know so much! and he could do and say such marvelous things! and withal, he was so deep and wise! Tom's remarks, and Tom's performances, were reported by the boys to their elders, and these also presently began to discuss Tom Canty, and to regard him as a most gifted and extraordinary creature. Full grown people brought their perplexities to Tom for solution, and were often astonished at the wit and wisdom of his decisions. In fact he was become a hero to all who knew him except his own family-these, only, saw nothing in him.
Privately, after a while, Tom organized a royal court! He was the prince; his special comrades were guards, chamberlains, equerries, lords and ladies in waiting, and the royal family. Daily the mock prince was received with elaborate ceremonials borrowed by Tom from his romantic readings; daily the great affairs of the mimic kingdom were discussed in the royal council, and daily his mimic highness issued decrees to his imaginary armies, navies, and viceroyalties.
After which, he would go forth in his rags and beg a few farthings, eat his poor crust, take his customary cuffs and abuse, and then stretch himself upon his handful of foul straw, and resume his empty grandeurs in his dreams.
And still his desire to look just once upon a real prince, in the flesh, grew upon him, day by day, and week by week, until at last it absorbed all other desires, and became the one passion of his life.
One January day, on his usual begging tour, he tramped despondently up and down the region round about Mincing Lane and Little East Cheap, hour after hour, barefooted and cold, looking in at cookshop windows and longing for the dreadful pork-pies and other deadly inventions displayed there - for to him these were dainties fit for the angels; that is, judging by the smell, they were - for it had never been his good luck to own and eat one. There was a cold drizzle of rain; the atmosphere was murky; it was a melancholy day. At night Tom reached home so wet and tired and hungry that it was not possible for his father and grandmother to observe his forlorn condition and not be moved?after their fashion; wherefore they gave him a brisk cuffing at once and sent him to bed. For a long time his pain and hunger, and the swearing and fighting going on in the building kept him awake; but at last his thoughts drifted away to far, romantic lands, and he fell asleep in the company of jeweled and gilded princelings who lived in vast palaces, and had servants salaaming before them or flying to execute their orders. And then, as usual, he dreamed that he was a princeling himself.
All night long the glories of his royal estate shone upon him; he moved among great lords and ladies, in a blaze of light, breathing perfumes, drinking in delicious music, and answering the reverent obeisances of the glittering throng as it parted to make way for him, with here a smile, and there a nod of his princely head.
And when he awoke in the morning and looked upon the wretchedness about him, his dream had had its usual effect-it had intensified the sordidness of his surroundings a thousand fold. Then came bitterness, and heartbreak, and tears. Chapter Three
Tom's Meeting with the Prince
Tom got up hungry and sauntered hungry away but with his thoughts busy with the shadowy splendors of his night's dreams. He wandered here and there in the city, hardly noticing where he was going or what was happening around him. People jostled him, and some gave him rough speech, but it was all lost on the musing boy. By and by he found himself at Temple Bar the furthest from home he had ever traveled in that direction. He stopped and considered a moment, then fell into his imaginings again and passed on, outside the walls of London. The Strand had ceased to be a country road then, and regarded itself as a street-but by a strained construction, for though there was a tolerably compact row of houses on one side of it, there were only some scattering great buildings on the other, these being palaces of rich nobles, with ample and beautiful grounds stretching to the river grounds that are now closely packed with grim acres of brick and stone.
Tom discovered Charing village, presently, and rested himself at the beautiful cross built there by a bereaved king of earlier days; then idled down a quiet, lovely road, past the great cardinal's stately palace, toward a far more mighty and majestic palace beyond-Westminster. Tom stared in glad wonder at the vast pile of masonry, the wide-spreading wings, the frowning bastions and turrets, the huge stone gateway with its gilded bars and its magnificent array of colossal granite lions and the other signs and symbols of English royalty. Was the desire of his soul to be satisfied at last? Here, indeed, was a king's palace-might he not hope to see a prince, now, a prince of flesh and blood, if heaven were willing?
At each side of the gilded gate stood a living statue-that is to say, an erect and stately and motionless man-at-arms, clad from head to heel in shining steel armor. At a respectful distance were many country folk, and people from the city waiting for any chance glimpse of royalty that might offer. Splendid carriages with splendid people in them and splendid servants outside were arriving and departing by several other noble gateways that pierced the royal enclosure.
Poor little Tom, in his rags, approached, and was moving slow and timidly past the sentinels, with a beating heart and a rising hope, when all at once he caught sight, through the golden bars, of a spectacle that almost made him shout for joy. Within was a comely boy, tanned and brown with sturdy out-door sports and exercises, whose clothing was all of lovely silks and satins, shining with jewels; at his hip a little jeweled sword and dagger; dainty buskins on his feet, with red heels, and on his head a jaunty crimson cap with drooping plumes fastened with a great sparkling gem. Several gorgeous gentlemen stood near his servants, without a doubt. O, he was a prince! a prince! a living prince, a real prince, without the shadow of a question, and the prayer of the pauper-boy's heart was answered at last!
Tom's breath came quick and short with excitement, and his eyes grew big with wonder and delight. Everything gave way in his mind, instantly, to one desire; that was, to get close to the prince and have a good, devouring look at him. Before he knew what he was about, he had his face against the gate-bars. The next instant one of the soldiers snatched him rudely away and sent him spinning among the gaping crowd of country gawks and London idlers. The soldier said:
"Mind thy manners thou young beggar!"
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Studio: Bantam Classics
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.5" Width: 4.25" Height: 7" Weight: 0.25 lbs.
Release Date Nov 1, 1983
Publisher Bantam Classics
Series Bantam Classics
ISBN 0553212567 ISBN13 9780553212563 UPC 076783003958
Availability 0 units.
More About Mark Twain
Mark Twain, born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in 1835, led one of the most exciting of literary lives. Raised in the river town of Hannibal, Missouri, Twain had to leave school at age 12 and was successively a journeyman printer, a steamboat pilot, a halfhearted Confederate soldier, and a prospector, miner, and reporter in the western territories. His experiences furnished him with a wide knowledge of humanity, as well as with the perfect grasp of local customs and speech which manifests itself in his writing. With the publication in 1865 of The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, Twain gained national attention as a frontier humorist, and the bestselling Innocents Abroad solidified his fame. But it wasn't until Life on the Mississippi (1883), and finally, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), that he was recognized by the literary establishment as one of the greatest writers America would ever produce. Toward the end of his life, plagued by personal tragedy and financial failure, Twain grew more and more pessimistic--an outlook not alleviated by his natural skepticism and sarcasm. Though his fame continued to widen--Yale & Oxford awarded him honorary degrees--Twain spent his last years in gloom and exasperation, writing fables about "the damned human race."
Mark Twain lived in Hannibal, in the state of Missouri. Mark Twain was born in 1835 and died in 1910.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Prince and the Pauper?
Inspirational classic Mar 18, 2007
One of the most persistent themes in American pop and literary culture is the switched identity plot. Movies like Garfield 2, Face-Off, Big Business and Double Dragon have been based on this trick. Where did it all start? Probably with this children's classic by Mark Twain. Set in Renaissance England, it tells the story of two boys who look exactly alike, except one is a prince and the other is a poor boy. The two meet each other, exchange places, and have loads of fun. All ends well as they each regain their proper places with more wisdom and friends than before.
The text of the book is readable by most elementary school kids, though the length is quite long for a children's work. The dialogue is English, and might make hard reading the first time around, and the comedy might be dry for those not used to it. But the book is enjoyable and totally appropriate. I highly recommend it.
Fun, simple tale with a moral and some humor Feb 19, 2007
The Prince and the Pauper is a classic tale of switched and mistaken identities when two young boys who are similar looking in appearance happen to meet each other and decide to change appearances. Despite the fact that the two look similar, the two boys have led quite different lives--one boy living a poor, destitute life with an abusive father, and the other, living a life of luxury. Once the two boys decide to switch to see how each other looks, they seemingly do not know that it will be hard to switch back. Mark Twain's ability to establish a children's story with a sense of royalty and fantasy intermixed is clearly attributed to his forte as a great versatile writer, both of satire and comedy, as well as fantasy. While the story has a simple idea and basis for its course--the idea that two boys must learn how to live in the "others" shoes for awhile--the greater strength and stability is to depict a strong moral in the story, which is that we often do not know or appreciate how hard things can be for someone else in life.
Another fun aspect of this work is simply the trademark satire from Twain. He has a way of making fun of the idea of royalty in a dignified and subtle way, and has fun once the two boys are in the "others" world. Not only this, but he has fun "overdoing" some of the scenes for both boys. Tom Canty is distressed at the process of how much trouble it is to do anything without the "Royal Court" helping him with an everyday task, from taxing to simple. The king is ashamed at the ill treatment he receives from mean citizens of the town, and despite his protests of being a king, no one listens.
Each child gets himself in unwittingly bad circumstances that he wishes himself out of, and each must find ways at adapting to their new life. For instance, Tom Canty cannot believe the power that his words has in the court of law, and he is both shocked, and impressed, by his ability to literally change the course of those condemned to death. Although frightened at first, he learns to manage his new station in life. Meanwhile, the poor king has to life an unaccustomed life of poverty, and must deal with all the malevolent allies of poor Tom's father, despicable individuals who rob, cuss, steal, and are vulgar. Generally, he struggles, but is aided by a generous man named Miles Hendon, who helps him through all the difficulties.
Perhaps another moral evoked from Twain's tale is that of not thinking yourself better than another person, despite your or their station in life. The boys seem to have to deal with this by the book's end, and learn their ways, having a greater and deeper appreciation of the opposite point of view.
There is plenty of adventure, imagination, and humor to keep you entertained in this book. At times, several scenes do get a little confusing, but overall it is a rather quick and simple read. The Bantam Classic edition also has footnotes to explain terms in the index, and fairly big print easy for reading.
Gripping & narrative Oct 21, 2006
Mark Twain classic "The Prince and the Pauper" has ever been so excitedly ever told tale of two look-alike boys; a tale of the rich and the poor. No wonder, this has ever been the best educational pick in the classroom as kids would love to dive into imagination and get the moral of the story. Two different worlds and Tom Canty and Edward Tudor shared the same birth date and same features. Fate brings them and they decide to change clothes for few minutes. This leads to the adventures beyond wildest dreams. He pokes fun at the old upper class in England and showed how wrong it was to judge people by outward appearances. Born in November, the author's other famous Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer were my fav too. A good Pick for all ages.
Prince and the Pauper Jul 17, 2006
Wow! What a story this was. Twain was a great story-teller in his own right with the ability to inject his own feelings into the book. This book is very much a satire attacking the life under a tyrant. And although the book was written in a good-humored state, one can see the sourness behind it all.
The book started out with a prince and a poor lad, who really looked alike, switching clothes. They soon found themselves into very uncomfortable positions as the two had to step into the life of the other. The pauper was very much uncomfortable with all the regal etiquettes imposed and followed in the royal court. And the Prince flowed into the streets, still believing and telling everyone that he was the Prince of England. This only made himself look like a clown, soon the Prince found himself in the company with a bunch of thieves, gangs, and pickpockets. He even drew a spanking from the pauper's vogabond father, who believed the Prince was his son Tom Canty. The two's lives would soon come to at a criss-cross at the coronation of the Prince, and many interesting things ensued.
Overall, this book was well-written, well-told, and well-described. I give it a four stars instead of a five because there are small segments in the book that are quite boring, but nothing major that lasts more than 5 pages at a time. This book is definitely a classic that is worth reading.
A classic story of mistaken identities Jun 5, 2006
In Mark Twain's classic historical novel, Tom Canty, a poor boy from the London slums, and Edward Tudor, Prince of Wales, unwittingly swap places. Because they bear an uncanny resemblance to each other, no one believes them when they announce who they really are. So their adventures begin ...
I recommend this book to just about anyone, especially historical-fiction fans. I adored it. The novel is humorous, witty, adventurous and has a lot to say about the human folly of judging people by outward appearances. Plus, it's a classic that's actually a quick read!