This usage has been very common, but never from Mark Twain himself. See
Hemingway's famous quotation about the novel--if they don't cut out the last
part where he says this.
Up until the most recent edition of the Norton Anthology of American
Literature, the erroneous phrase was used in the headnote to Twain. As a
reviewer for the most recent, I wrote a note alerting the editors to the
error--and also threatened that if they didn't change it, I would stop using
the Norton Anthology! When the new one came out, I was glad to see they had
heeded my call and cut the phrase out. I didn't realize my own power! <G>
The poor novel has enough problems without throwing in some more that aren't
even in there...
----- Original Message -----
From: <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, March 19, 2004 4:26 PM
Subject: Re: "nigger Jim" corrected text
> The general consensus is that Twain did not write "nigger"
> as part of Jim's proper name. Albert Bigelow Paine does use it
> as such in _Mark Twain: A Biography_ when he states: "The tale
> of Huck and Nigger Jim drifting down the mighty river..." (p. 794).
> Given Twain's attention to details of capitalization and punctuation,
> the argument that the phrase "the nigger" was intended as a part of
> Jim's proper name in _Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer Among the Indians_
> is weak.