Kevin, you hit on a significant point--the teaching of the novel, the time, the people. In the United States, students most usually encounter "Huck" at the 11th grade-- the American literary survey. Students will have experienced several of Twain's other pieces at earlier grades. "A True Story," "Huck," Uncle Tom's Cabin," and now works by Frances Harper and Pauline Hopkins are included, along with essays, journals, etc. I have interacted with this novel and students of all ethnicities for some time now, and I have yet to encounter students who resolutely reject the reading of the work, IF they feel one has prepared to teach/share/experience it with them and IF they feel safe in the classroom. Much of the success for the teaching of any piece of American literature, whether in high school or undergraduate, depends on the teacher. I feel the goal of teaching any piece of challenging literature is to encourage students to experience the work and determine for themselves whether that experience enlightened them in some way or whether the experience left them flat and unaffected.
By teaching American works such as "Huck," modern students can begin to understand that at one time language really did make a difference; that words really do carry weight and consequences.
On Jan 4, 2011, at 5:27 PM, Kevin Mac Donnell wrote:
> I think this edition of HF is sparking exactly the debate that would be
> expected. The Wallace edition sparked a similar debate. I wonder if both
> debates are misdirected.
> As a member of the textual purist camp, I have an uneasy feeling about
> tinkering with Twain's texts for any reason. But if the reason is to bring
> the text to a readership that would otherwise not experience the book at
> all, and the textual change is openly acknowledged (I hope it is spelled out
> in the introduction to this edition), then maybe this is a Good Thing, a
> sort of HF with training wheels.
> I do wonder if the word "nigger" gets in the way of teaching the book, and
> distracts a young reader from the irony, dual narratives, metaphors, social
> satire, etc., that make the book a great work of art, a masterpiece. I've
> never taught the book, so I can't say. I've heard of black readers who
> expressed anguish having to endure the repeated use of the word, and
> certainly it must be a distraction for them.
> But I have a more basic question-- exactly when are kids ready to read HF?
> I seem to recall Twain himself saying something along the lines of Tom
> Sawyer being a boy's book, and HF a book for those who were once boys (BTW,
> does anybody have a citation for this quote?). That's as big a difference as
> the one over the bug, with or without lightning (or lightning, with or
> without the bug)..
> Mac Donnell Rare Books
> 9307 Glenlake Drive
> Austin TX 78730
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> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Martin D. Zehr" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Tuesday, January 04, 2011 2:53 PM
> Subject: Re: a new Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
>> Sometime in the long distant past, my teenage years, to be exact, I read
>> ck for the first time, a sanitized version like the one which is the
>> t of this discussion.=A0 Years later, I read the real thing, and I still
>> call the feeling of disgust, even anger,=A0at being cheated of the raw
>> e of the banality of racism in Twain's original.=A0 I realize Huck will
>> ays be a difficult book to teach, but putting another gutted version out
>> r consumption by a new generation of readers, shielding them from the full
>> force of the entrenched racism Twain meant to convey, is certainly not the
>> answer.=A0 Just another form of "evasion," I think Twain and his
>> are slighted, if not trivialized, by this form of deception.=A0 Also, it
>> ill grates to see the article "The" in the title, the difference between
>> e "lightning" and the "lightning bug."
>> And, in case it's not apparent, this is only my idle opinion, worth what
>> u've paid for it, and not meant to be a personal criticism of anyone
>> ipating in this discussion or this valuable, vital forum, for that matter.
>> Martin Zehr
>> Kansas City, Missouri
>> --- On Tue, 1/4/11, Jocelyn Chadwick <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> From: Jocelyn Chadwick <[log in to unmask]>
>> Subject: Re: a new Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
>> To: [log in to unmask]
>> Date: Tuesday, January 4, 2011, 2:09 PM
>> 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 =3D
>> 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=A0 has determined students have read enough =
>> history about Latinos, African Americans, Native Americans, women, and =3D
>> any sort of difference; where the out-going Superintendent of AZ, Tom =3D
>> Horne (who will=A0 also now become AZ's Attorney General), has declared
>> all ethnic studies to be illegal: =3D20
>> HB 2281
>> 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 =3D
>> "It becomes the duty of the people of Arizona, through their elected =3D
>> 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 =3D
>> 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 =3D
>> uncomfortable;=A0 it should be; it must be,until we "get it."=A0=A0=A0Just
>> my =3D
>> thoughts. =3D20
>> 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. =3D
>>> 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. =3D3DA0So what word =
>> does thi=3D3D
>>> s new text use to describe him?
>>> Thanks for calling this to our attention, Michael. =3D3DA0The responses =
>> on the =3D3D
>>> original posting were illuminating. =3D3DA0I'm heartened to see so many =
>> people =3D3D
>>> take words, and even this one word, so seriously.=3D3DA0
>>> --- 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. =3D
>>> generates a lot of talk though doesn't it? Seems like it would make a =3D
>>> classroom discussion.
>>> (Although, I tried to get my CORE class to discuss the violence over =3D
>>> Danish cartoons of Muhammed and I got a lot of shrugging - like, =3D
>> what's the
>>> 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 =3D
>>> swearing to myself as I went along, mentally re-inserting the =3D
>>> On Tue, Jan 4, 2011 at 1:28 PM, Michael Kiskis <[log in to unmask]> =3D
>>>> A former student sent me this link to a story about a new edition of =3D
>>>> to be edited by Alan Gribben.=3D3DA0 If you read the story, scroll down
>> to re=3D3D
>>>> the variety of comments.
>>>> Michael J. Kiskis
>>>> Leonard Tydings Grant Professor of American Literature
>>>> Elmira College
>>>> One Park Place
>>>> Elmira, NY=3D3DA0 14901
>>> Mark Woodhouse
>>> Head of Technical Services
>>> College and Mark Twain Archivist
>>> Elmira College
>>> One Park Place
>>> Elmira NY 14901
>>> 607 735 1869
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