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Taylor Roberts <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 30 May 1993 11:23:09 -0700
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     I've been looking at the new electronic texts of _Tom Sawyer
Abroad_ and _Tom Sawyer, Detective_.  The title page for these e-texts
says that they're from _The Writings of MT_ (1903), volume 20.  I don't
know how accurate these texts are (either the e-texts, or the published
ones on which they were based).  _TS Abroad_ was bowdlerized by a
magazine editor in its original serial publication, and some of these
changes survived into subsequent book editions.

     With this warning in mind, I know many of us are interested in
learning whether Twain ever used the "Nigger Jim" epithet in his
writings, and so I did some searches on these files.  _TS Abroad_ is
34,155 words long, and contains 11 occurrences of the n-word in
isolation.  At 23,538 words, _TS, Detective_ is somewhat shorter, yet it
includes 15 occurrences of the n-word.  _TS Abroad_ does not contain the
phrase in question.  _TS, Detective_, however, contains two occurrences,
although both have an uncapitalized n-word and are preceded by the
adjective "old," hence probably can't be considered an example of the
"Nigger Jim" epithet.

     The first occurrence of the phrase is in the opening line of the

          WELL, it was the next spring after me and Tom Sawyer set our
          old nigger Jim free, the time he was chained up for a runaway
          slave down there on Tom's uncle Silas's farm in Arkansaw.

This appears on p. 357 of the Iowa-California edition (Gerber, John C.,
Paul Baender, and Terry Firkins, eds., _The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
Tom Sawyer Abroad.  Tom Sawyer, Detective_ [The Works of Mark Twain,
vol. 4.], Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980), which omits
the comma in mid-sentence.  The other occurrence is near the middle of
the final chapter (chapter 11), when Tom is testifying in court:

          "Well, me and Huck went on hunting for the corpse after the
          others quit, and we found it. And was proud, too; but Uncle
          Silas he knocked us crazy by telling us HE killed the man. So
          we was mighty sorry we found the body, and was bound to save
          Uncle Silas's neck if we could; and it was going to be tough
          work, too, because he wouldn't let us break him out of prison
          the way we done with our old nigger Jim.

This appears in line 2367 of the e-text, and corresponds to p. 411 of
the Iowa-California edition, which also adds ", you remember" to the end
of the paragraph.

     I wouldn't be too confident about these statistics, yet, given that
the e-text and the Iowa-California edition differ even in these two
randomly pulled paragraphs.

Taylor Roberts
University of British Columbia