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Fred Kaplan <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 19 Mar 2004 14:18:20 -0500
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Kevin Mac Donnell, in his Forum review of The Singular Mark Twain, A Biography, & Shelley Fisher Fishkin in her review for the Washington Post Book World state that Mark Twain never referred to Jim as "nigger Jim." This is a false claim. The opening paragraph of "Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer among the Indians" includes the sentence, "Me and Tom Sawyer and the nigger Jim, that used to belong to old Miss Watson, was away down in Arkansas at Tom's aunt Sally's and uncle Silas's." My use of the phrase does not claim that Huckleberry Finn is the source of the quotation. But the words are Twain's. Twain himself came up with the epithet, not his first biographer, as Fishkin claims. It seems to me puzzling when an academic expert on Mark Twain and race states in a corrective manner that Twain never used the phrase. That Mac Donnell also makes that claim is equally puzzling.