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Dan Davis <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 7 Jan 2011 10:42:02 -0500
text/plain (43 lines)
Thank you, Michael, for pointing us to this link. After it played, an
interview with Gribben (
played automatically. Interestingly, in it he characterizes the n-word as
"incidental" to the story. His perspective continues to astonish me. I can
hardly think of a better example of a single word that is CENTRAL to a

I should probably mention here (probably should have mentioned it in my
prior comments) that I have a background in linguistics. If one sits down
and builds a semantic structure analysis of "nigger" (a hierarchical diagram
of all the components of meaning attached to the word), it quickly becomes
clear that these are the same elements on which the story turns. Huck is
immersed in -- and judging himself deeply flawed for failing to align his
heart with -- a world view wholly defined by the semantic structure of that
single word. The very suggestion that such a pivotal term is incidental
suggests a quite unsophisticated understanding of the nature of language.

I don't know Dr. Gribben. He seems like a very nice man, and I appreciate
his many contributions to the study of Twain's works. But his conclusions in
this case are unambiguously flawed. I do agree with others here who have
contended that this is not EXACTLY censorship. It is, however, a perfect
example of bowdlerization, which is a component of censorship and keeps all
the same unsavory company. 

Dan Davis
Atlanta, GA

-----Original Message-----
From: Mark Twain Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Michael
Patrick Hearn
Sent: Thursday, January 06, 2011 3:42 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Brian Williams on the "new" HUCK


Scroll down to "Huck Finn."