“The Palace Thief,” a short story by Ethan Canin, first appeared in The Paris Review in 1993. The story spans four decades in the life of Mr. Hundert, a history teacher at a prestigious boarding school. The story details various moments in Mr. Hundert’s teaching career and focuses specifically on his dealings with a challenging student named Sedgewick Bell. “The Palace Thief” appeared in a short story collection of the same name published in 1994 and was the inspiration for the 2002 film, The Emperor’s Club, starring Kevin Kline as Mr. Hundert.


Read our full plot summary of “The Palace Thief.”


See a complete list of the characters in “The Palace Thief” and in-depth analyses of Mr. Hundert and Sedgewick Bell.

Literary Devices

Here's where you will find analysis of the key literary devices in “The Palace Thief.”


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Deeper Study

Enhance your understanding of “The Palace Thief” by learning more about Ethan Canin and historical context on the study of the Greek and Latin in high schools.