Those Extraordinary Twins

Those Extraordinary Twins

by Mark Twain


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Twain originally envisioned the characters of Luigi and Angelo Capello as conjoined twins, modeled after the late-19th century Italian conjoined twins Giovanni and Giacomo Tocci. He planned for them to be the central characters of a novel to be titled Those Extraordinary Twins.

During the writing process, however, Twain realized that secondary characters such as Pudd'nhead Wilson, Roxy, and Tom Driscoll were taking a more central role in the story. More importantly, he found that the serious tone of the story of Roxy and Tom clashed unpleasantly with the light tone of the twins' story. As he explains in the introduction to "Those Extraordinary Twins":

The defect turned out to be the one already spoken of - two stories on one, a farce and a tragedy. So I pulled out the farce and left the tragedy. This left the original team in, but only as mere names, not as characters.

The characters of Luigi and Angelo remain in Pudd'nhead Wilson, as twins with separate bodies. Twain was not thorough in his separation of the twins, and there are hints in the final version of their conjoined origin, such as the fact that they were their parents' "only child", they sleep together, they play piano together, and they had an early career as sideshow performers.

"Those Extraordinary Twins" was published as a short story, with glosses inserted into the text where the narrative was either unfinished or would have duplicated parts of Pudd'nhead Wilson

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781544730196
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 03/26/2017
Pages: 66
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.14(d)

About the Author

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. He is noted for his novels Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), called "the Great American Novel", and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876).

Twain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which would later provide the setting for Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. He apprenticed with a printer. He also worked as a typesetter and contributed articles to his older brother Orion's newspaper. After toiling as a printer in various cities, he became a master riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River, before heading west to join Orion. He was a failure at gold mining, so he next turned to journalism. While a reporter, he wrote a humorous story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," which proved to be very popular and brought him nationwide attention. His travelogues were also well-received. Twain had found his calling.

He achieved great success as a writer and public speaker. His wit and satire earned praise from critics and peers, and he was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty.

Date of Birth:

November 30, 1835

Date of Death:

April 21, 1910

Place of Birth:

Florida, Missouri

Place of Death:

Redding, Connecticut

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Those Extraordinary Twins 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
theokester on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As a companion read to Pudd'nhead Wilson this story was a very interesting read. The version I read (not sure if it applies to all editions) included commentary from Mark Twain in relation to the story itself and its later transformation into the Pudd'nhead Wilson story.Apparently, Twain worked on this story as a serial with the creative idea of a pair of conjoined twins (from Italy) each with very different mindsets. These twins visit a small Missouri town and astound the residents with their ideas, wit and charm. Each of the twins becomes members of different groups and organizations in the town (often organizations pitted against one another) and eventually a charge of assault is brought against the twins. Pudd'nhead Wilson acts as defense lawyer in the case and comically asserts that there's no way to determine which of the twins was consciously responsible for the assault and since you can't punish the guilty one without punishing the innocent one, they were set free. Similar "can't have one without the other" instances come about during elections to public office and other situations within conflicting organizations.From a high level, you can see the similarities to the Pudd'nhead Wilson book. Many of the same characters are present and a lot of very similar situations come about.As Twain put it, he started out planning to write this comical farce and ended up writing two stories in one. In the end, he yanked out the bits that made this one a comedy, changed the conjoined twins to 'normal' twins, modified some behaviors, and came up with the Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson. Fortunately, however, we are still left with this original piece that influenced the latter.This story is hilarious in concept and has lots of great situational and verbal comedy. The writing is clever and fun, as is to be expected with Twain. Even his own interruptions and commentary serve as humorous additions to the story. The depth of theme and concept isn't as deep and the overall tone is more akin to some of his shorter whimsical stories (celebrated jumping frog[Image], diaries of adam & eve[Image], man who corrupted hadleyburg[Image]). In the end, it's a great tale that's well worth reading.This story could certainly be read as a stand alone and be very entertaining. But for the full effect, I would suggest reading it along with the Tragedy that came as a result.****4 out of 5 stars