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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Sharon McCoy <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 16 Feb 2007 09:38:57 -0500
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
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I'm glad to hear your opinion of the book, Kent, and look forward to your
review, because everything else I've read about the book fills me with
trepidation.  You can't judge a book by its cover and you certainly cannot
judge it before you've read it, and yet--

Has anyone else been disturbed by what they've read in the publicity
releases?  Some points that disturb me, though I've been trying to reserve

1.  The Random House website includes this quotation in its "summary" of
Twain's novel (on the website Kent mentions):

"Huck, in flight from his murderous father, and Nigger Jim, in flight from
slavery, pilot their raft thrillingly through treacherous waters, surviving
a crash with a steamboat, betrayal by rogues, and the final threat from the
bourgeoisie. "  ( )

This appellation for Jim was offensive enough back when DeVoto--and not
Twain--used it, but why is it resurrected here?   This is 2007, for heaven's

Apparently, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

2.  If Finn's father is a judge, what happens to the under-educated white
underclass?  Does being poor become merely a matter of personal choice and
bad character rather than a societal problem?

3.  If Huck is mulatto, what becomes of the racial dynamics of the story?
Huck's struggles demonstrate the ways in which racial attitudes and
practices collided with class concerns for a poor young white boy.  His
tortured struggles with Jim's humanity in a world that denies the black man
that humanity implicate every white person.  What becomes of this
indictment, of this call to look inside, if Huck is in fact mulatto?

Again, please forgive me for airing concerns about a book I have not
read--it is not my practice to judge something I have not seen, and I'm sure
from the excerpts that the book is rich in its own way.

But I have seen these publicity blurbs, and they disturb me greatly.

I look forward to your review, Kent, and to discussion on the Forum.

Sharon McCoy