Wed, 5 Jan 2011 11:32:55 -0600
> at what point
> does the editing stop?
> Kit Barry
> The Ephemera Archive for American Studies=
In this edition I think the editing stops with substituting "slave" for
"nigger" and "Indian" for "Injun." Somebody mentiioned the John Wallace
edition of HF, but I'd like to point out that he did much more than a few
word substitutions. I'll give just one example. In the famous passage where
Huck replies "No'm. Killed a nigger" that entire sentence is deleted in
Wallace's edition, with the result that Huck simply replies "No'm" which in
turn erases all the racism out of Aunt Sally's response. I don't think any
of us can endorse that sort of defanging of Twain's text. But if all you do
is substitute the word "slave" in Huck's reply, the racist impact of Aunt
Sally's remark remains intact. There is co comparison between this new
edition and the Wallace edition.
I've also seen a cyber-comment that Twain would never have allowed his texts
to be defanged. Nonsense! He did it all the time, usually in response to
Livy, or Howells, or after road-testing his texts before an audience. In
`Journalism in Tennessee' there's a newspaper editor who is described as a
"crawling insect" who is "braying." Really? An insect that brays?
Jack-asses bray, not insects, and in Twain's own copy of that printed text
he corrected the printed text back to "jack-ass." Without original
manuscripts and revised copies of his printed texts we may never know the
full extent of Twain's self-editing, or how much he allowed others to fiddle
with his texts. Twain's editing was not limited to word choices. Didn't he
leave out a chapter about lynching from one book so as not to harm sales in
As Twain once remarked when the Concord Library banned HF, all of the noise
and chatter would probably just sell more copies. I hope that's the result
this time around. More readers for HF!!
One last thought-- quibble as we may among ourselves, I hope we all circle
our wagons if the attacks on Al Gribben escalate. He is one of us, a friend,
a boon to Twain scholarship, and a good guy. I know a good safe-house in
Mac Donnell Rare Books
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