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Kevin Mac Donnell <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 20 Mar 2004 01:05:16 -0600
text/plain (60 lines)
I'm in California and replying to this message by remote login. I read Fred
Kaplan's original posting and the many replies to it, and decided to make no
reply myself until returning home and confirming his original reference in
`The Singular Mark Twain' but Barbara Schmidt has saved me that trouble and
I thank her for it.

I stand by every word of my review.

Lightening-bug vs lightening

"nigger Jim" vs "the nigger Jim"

Having earned the honorary nick-names "Nigger" and "Nigger Kevin" by my
black co-workers in a carpet warehouse where I worked in the late 1960s I
can tell you from personal experience that the difference is enormous. If
they had merely referred to me as "the nigger Kevin" they would have sounded
like idiots (I'm white). But they chose to name me, and in the context of
the situation, it made perfect sense. In the context of HF it made perfect
sense for Twain not to so name Jim, and he did not, and care should be taken
by all Twain scholars to avoid any inference that he did.

Mac Donnell Rare Books
9307 Glenlake Drive
Austin TX 78730
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Member: ABAA, ILAB
You may browse our books at
----- Original Message -----
From: <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, March 19, 2004 5:43 PM
Subject: Re: "nigger Jim"

> The reference in _The Singular Mark Twain_, p. 4 states:
> "_The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn_ still raises hackles, especially
> of those who cannot read its irony about "nigger Jim."
> The index references "nigger Jim" only under _Adventures of
> Huckleberry Finn_.
> To present the quote only in this context is misleading a reader to
> believe that is how Twain referred to Jim in that particular book.  An
> in depth discussion of _Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer Among the Indians_
> would have added clarity to the present argument.  But that manuscript
> is not discussed or listed in the index of _The Singular Mark Twain_.
> In both the Fishkin and Mac Donnell reviews, both reviewers
> are following the lead presented -- "nigger Jim" as it related to
> _Adventures of Huckleberry Finn_.
> Barb