The Twain news for the day, at least according to the Baltimore
SUN front page headline is "Scholar concludes that young black
was model for Huck Finn's voice."
The report catalogues research by Shelley Fisher Fishkin and uses
opinions by T. Walter Herbert, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and David
E. E. Sloane about the significance of her research.
Professor Fishkin found an article in the New York TIMES on
Sunday, Nov. 29, 1874 in which Twain described the boy as "the
most artless, sociable and exhausting talker I ever came across."
Apparently, Professor Fishkin did comparisons between the
language of Jimmy and of Huck and found a number of points of
agreement in usage. While no one would have been surprised to
find Jim's language depending on black speech patterns, the
article says that Twain scholars are startled to find Huck's
voice coming from black speech.
The article, written by Anthony DePalma for the New York Times
News Service is accompanied by two pictures in the SUN
reprinting: Twain and his house in Connecticut. Neither is a new
portrait; and, presumably, no picture of the boy is available.
The information comes in Fishkin's new book WAS HUCK BLACK?: MARK
TWAIN AND AFRICAN AMERICAN VOICES which Oxford will publish next