|[This unusual "review" seems to assume everyone is already familiar with the story of MT's novel, and focuses its attention almost exclusively on the illustrations in the American edition. It ignores or forgets about the illustrations that appeared with the novel in The Century Magazine, and it attributes all the marginal illustrations to one artist, though two different names are attached to the pictures themselves.]|
Thanks to an artist who, though he does not draw well, is clever in grasping ideas, the fun and drollery and the comedy and tragedy of two of Mark Twain's most interesting stories have been multiplied many times. Those who have enjoyed "Pudd'nhead Wilson," with nothing but their imaginations to help them picture what sort of man the hero of the story was and what the scenes were in which he acted his part, will be glad to run through the story again along with the artist, who, it may be assumed, has recorded in his marginal pictures the author's material conceptions of the things he has written about.
They may see that "well-fed, well-petted, and properly-revered" cat stretched at full length on the window ledge, "asleep and blissful with her furry belly to the sun and a paw curved over her nose." That was one of the sight's of Dawson's Landing. They may see the tinmonger's pole standing on one of the chief corners of the village, "wreathed from top to bottom with tin pots and pans and cups," giving noisy notice to the world, when the wind blew, that the tinmonger was close at hand ready for business. They may look upon Wilson when, as he entered the village intent upon establishing himself in the law business, he made the remark that ruined him for the time being. "I wish I owned half that dog," said Wilson. "Why?" somebody asked. "Because," answered Wilson, "I'd kill my half." The villagers decided promptly that a man who did not know that to kill half a dog would be death to the entire animal was without that important requisite for a lawyer, a legal mind.
So all through the story the illustrator accompanies the text. He shows the village firemen drowning the old market house with water pumped through the little hand engine; he shows Wilson, when he had come to be somebody, addressing a mass meeting, a flag flying over him bearing the announcement that he is conducting a campaign for the Mayoralty, and in one of his best pictures he illustrates the text, "A devil born to a young couple is measurably recognizable by them before long; but a devil adopted by an old couple is an angel to them and remains so through thick and thin."
But it is in "Those Extraordinary Twins," which is the second part of the volume, that the artist has done his cleverest work. This undoubtedly is because the story is the funnier of the two. There is an almost infinite amount of suggestion for an artist of the humorous vein in the story of the two-headed man whom Twain persists in regarding as really two men -- making one man sick while the other is well; making one fight a duel while the other protests against the performance; baptizing the good one while the other sputters curses; hanging the bad one while the other looks indignant, though he finally does consent to join in the kicking.