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Ben Wise <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 18 Apr 2007 22:26:19 -0400
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Yes, I think I understood what you were referring to.  It's just that
I didn't think that, in our extended discussion about HF and MT,  we
were talking about the N-word as a forbidden or inappropriate word
(which seems to be your theme here), but specifically about the use
of the word as an indicator of racism...which is why I was
disconcerted by your conflation of the word with the those other
words you have so much to say about!  Discussion about the use of
that word is really a discussion about the ways in which racism and
its vocabulary has permeated the language and culture, with its
evolving changes through time and contexts. As you and many others have
pointed out,  Twain had to use it as he did in HF in order to
tell the story honestly, with all the contradictions and ironies
inherent in that context. And in regard to the larger question of
Twain's deeply felt humanism, however conditioned by the culture and
language and even prejudices of his time, I agree with everyone's
assessment, and especially enjoyed Bob Brownlee's excellent  appreciation of
Twain's rich and passionate humanity, as it speaks to us today.

Professor Emeritus
Keene State College
Keene, NH