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Dan Davis <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 3 Jan 2017 16:50:10 -0500
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Pretty much. Besides, as has been discussed here a number of times, "slave" is not semantically equivalent to "nigger." In fact there is no semantically equivalent word in English. To substitute it is to excise meaning, as "nigger" carries quite a load of semantic content. This is far too high a price to pay simply to sidestep the possibility of offending. If the audience is that lacking in sophistication, the problem lies - and should be addressed - elsewhere. 

> On Jan 3, 2017, at 3:04 PM, Céline-Albin Faivre <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> This is totally insane and stupid!
> Only American people can imagine such a thing!
> You have NO right to amend his works. He wrote "nigger", you have no 
> right to change the word or to delete it.  You betray a great 
> anti-racist novel in the process... Mark Twain was not a racist.
> When you are scared by the words (you are even not brave enough to write 
> the word!!), you are beaten. Censorship has been tried throughout 
> history.  It never works.  The goal of eliminating racism from our 
> society will be accomplished by facing it head on, not by trying to hide 
> it with politically correctness. I despise politically correctness. 
> This is a disease.
> “The difference between the almost-right word and the right word is 
> really a large matter—it's the difference between the lightning bug and 
> the lightning” (letter to George Bainton, Oct. 15, 1888)
> Twain used the word on purpose.
> A French reader
>> Le 03/01/2017 à 20:17, Clay Shannon a écrit :
>> When reading or quoting his works, I have struggled with whether to keep Tw=
>> ain's words "sacrosanct" by retaining the original wording in every case - =
>> specifically, the "elephant in the room" - the so-called "N word" (see, peo=
>> ple don't even like to write it out, let alone verbalize it).
>> I have determined to (not uniquely or originally) replace the word with "sl=
>> ave" when I encounter it.
>> Here is my reasoning:
>> When I do my Twain performance, I do not speak as slowly as Twain did (alth=
>> ough I do speak more slowly than my natural rate). Why? Because modern audi=
>> ences would not have the patience to endure that "three-words-per-minute" s=
>> tuff. They would tune me out quicker than a Barry Manilow song at a mosh pi=
>> t.
>> I have also determined not to mimic the Twain gait on stage, again because =
>> the average member of the audience would be distracted, wondering whether I=
>>  had hurt my leg or had imbibed two too many toddys prior to trodding the b=
>> oards. Now among a crowd of Twainians, it would be different - I would prob=
>> ably effect the "sailor-on-shore" weave, because they (you) would "get it."
>> So, my point is: the current milieu must be served. And that's why "slave" =
>> should, in my opinion, replace the "N" word when reading/quoting Twain's wo=
>> rks. If the original word was retained, the audience would understandably b=
>> e uncomfortable, distracted, and possibly even antagonistic both towards me=
>>  and Twain, viewing him perhaps as the immoralist of the insane rather than=
>>  the moralist of the Main.
>> What the word meant to be people back in the 1840s (and 1880s, even) and ho=
>> w they responded/reacted to it in those times is different from people's re=
>> sponse and reaction today. It may be that "slave" is, in actuality, a prett=
>> y good modern equivalent for the dreaded and now decidedly derogatory slur.
>> Why Twain used the word (especially in "Huck Finn") could continue to be di=
>> scussed, but (alluding to Daniel Day-Lewis-as-Lincoln's advice to Tommy Lee=
>>  Jones' character in "Lincoln"), the most effective way to get to the other=
>>  side of the swamp is sometimes to go around it, rather than plunge headlon=
>> g into the muck and mire.
>> The preservation of Twain's reputation, and to keep him on the world's read=
>> ings lists, may best be served by bending a little in this case.
>> Your responses are welcomed and awaited.=C2=A0- B. Clay Shannon