When I approached this set my view was "tainted". In comparison, I have not studied H. G. Wells but I have studied Mark Twain. No decent American Literature class would be complete without at least a brief survey of Mark Twain.
In addition, I own "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" in a separate volume. In the preface or on the back cover (I can't remember), the editor tells the reader that though "Connecticut Yankee" is not as dark as pessimistic as the works Twain published towards the end of his life, hints can be seen.
So when I approached this combined volume I kept that fact in mind and actively looked for these differences.
I think even without this knowledge the difference between "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" and "Puddin'head Wilson" would jump out.
In Tom Sawyer there seems to be not a hint of actual serious thought on the part of Tom, a carefree, careless, young, rambunctious (I know that's misspelled). The stories told by Twain are also lighthearted. Take the whitewashing of the fence for instance.
In "Puddin'head Wilson" only a trifle remains of the previous humor. The story revolves around the travesty of slavery and the no-good nature of "Tom Driscoll" (aka... ah, I don't remember the other name). There's stealing, dueling and murder.
"Puddin'head Wilson" is nowhere near as dark as all of the works of H. G. Wells, but still, a strain of pessimism and "darkness" is detectable.
This series of posts may seem boring (I think they are boring to me as well) but I consider them a stretching exercise (not just the analization but also the reading itself). Analyzing another author is never easy for me but it can be a very useful tool to see how other authors convey certain qualities. Hopefully though, I will finish London and Dickens soon and be able to move onto other "lighter" fiction.