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Hal Bush <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 16 Apr 2007 14:14:52 -0500
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On 4/16/07 1:56 PM, "Jocelyn Chadwick" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> No where I have been around the country, speaking to all
> races, have I encountered opposition when we discuss what the novel
> actually says and renders.

Jocelyn, as you know your opinion is one for which I have the utmost respect
in all of this.

Are you saying you have NEVER encountered opposition to Huck Finn as a
racist text?  I sure have.  Possibly your view hinges on the notion of what
the text "actually" says.  But I would be interested in hearing more.  (I
assume you have never met John Wallace, for example, or other vocal critics
of the book.)

I believe that Twain did have a sort of conversion experience about race,
circa mid-1870s, and in fact have argued that point in my last book.  But
whether or not it was a full conversion is pretty hard for me to say.  As
such, I think the author did retain some leftover baggage in the race
department for many years, probably for life in fact, even though I
recognize his hearty and outspoken statements against racism and certain of
his fictions, which evidently are composed to a large extent from a
non-racist position.

To whatever extent that "baggage" remained, it certainly seems plausible
that it must have left traces in the fiction itself.  Or so I would assume;
and I certainly make these ideas known to my students, since I am very
supportive of a "teach the conflicts" model a la Gerald Graff.

Harold K. Bush
Saint Louis University
St. Louis, MO