Your remarks are chilling because they are true. In "Huck Finn" Twain pokes us with a sharp stick, makes us squirm, makes us highly uncomfortable. And it's effective. It was through multiple readings of "Huck" as I came of age and into young adulthood that helped me unlearn an awful lot of hateful dogma that persisted within my own family. We all know that no child is born a racist. To paraphrase my favorite Twain passage, my well-intended parents taught me how to vote, how to worship, and who to hate. ("In religion and politics people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination..." --Mark Twain, autobiography) As Huck cross-examined his own beliefs, he helped me question mine. Thank you, Mr. Twain.
I don't know what to make of this new book. Here at the Museum we are hearing from our teachers (from prior workshops) who are outraged. They have long taught (and apparently plan to continue to teach) the unedited version for the very reasons you've so clearly presented. I hope you post your thoughts on the article's comment section, although it is now so lengthy that perhaps they would be lost in the crowd. Nevertheless, thank you for sharing here. Current events being what they are, we must be vigilant in calling out the hate-mongers and fear-mongers. I believe Huck helps do that. The passage where "no one was hurt" in the steamboat explosion will always repulse me no matter how often I read it. Let's not forget our history. That's my two cents, anyway.
From: Mark Twain Forum [[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Jocelyn Chadwick [[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Tuesday, January 04, 2011 2:09 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: a new Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Given the re-emergence of racial rhetoric from a variety of interesting =
venues--Congress, Arizona, South Carolina, for example, it would seem to =
me Twain's novel is a greater must-read than ever before WITH all of the =
original language. I understand Alan's perspective, but I also realize =
that we have entered into a phase where folks attending a secession ball =
in South Carolina are lamenting the loss of their ancestors' lifestyles; =
where my home state of Texas has determined students have read enough =
history about Latinos, African Americans, Native Americans, women, and =
any sort of difference; where the out-going Superintendent of AZ, Tom =
Horne (who will also now become AZ's Attorney General), has declared =
all ethnic studies to be illegal: =20
The law bans K-12 classes that:
Promote the overthrow of the U.S. government.
Promote resentment toward a race or class of people.
Are designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group.
Advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of students as =
"It becomes the duty of the people of Arizona, through their elected =
leaders . . . to put a stop to this, and to be sure that taxpayer-funded =
public schools teach students to treat each other as individuals, and =
not on the basis of the race they happen to have been born into," Horne =
The language in "Huck" was, is, and will always be offensive and =
uncomfortable; it should be; it must be,until we "get it." Just my =
On Jan 4, 2011, at 2:38 PM, Lawrence Howe wrote:
> I'm wondering if Alan is on-list and would like to clarify anything. =
> particularly curious about how he handles the scene in which pap rails =
> ut the educated 'nigger' that inspires his wrath against the gov'ment. =
> his particular black man is not a slave, but free. =3DA0So what word =
> s new text use to describe him?
> Thanks for calling this to our attention, Michael. =3DA0The responses =
on the =3D
> original posting were illuminating. =3DA0I'm heartened to see so many =
> take words, and even this one word, so seriously.=3DA0
> --- On Tue, 1/4/11, Mark Woodhouse <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> From: Mark Woodhouse <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Re: a new Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Date: Tuesday, January 4, 2011, 1:05 PM
> Good lord.
> I didn't know Alan was doing this but I guess it doesn't surprise me. =
> generates a lot of talk though doesn't it? Seems like it would make a =
> classroom discussion.
> (Although, I tried to get my CORE class to discuss the violence over =
> Danish cartoons of Muhammed and I got a lot of shrugging - like, =
> big deal? So maybe I'm not a judge of what makes for a good classroom
> discussion. It seemed like Worlds Colliding to me.)
> I tried to look at all the comments to see if we knew anyone but I ran =
> of steam.
> On purely aesthetic grounds the thought of this sort of thing makes me
> cringe. I can hear the dialogue in my head and I know I'd be mumbling =
> swearing to myself as I went along, mentally re-inserting the =
> On Tue, Jan 4, 2011 at 1:28 PM, Michael Kiskis <[log in to unmask]> =
>> A former student sent me this link to a story about a new edition of =
>> to be edited by Alan Gribben.=3DA0 If you read the story, scroll down =
>> the variety of comments.
>> Michael J. Kiskis
>> Leonard Tydings Grant Professor of American Literature
>> Elmira College
>> One Park Place
>> Elmira, NY=3DA0 14901
> Mark Woodhouse
> Head of Technical Services
> College and Mark Twain Archivist
> Elmira College
> One Park Place
> Elmira NY 14901
> 607 735 1869