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Thursday, January 6. 2011
Anybody who thinks they are in a position to bowdlerize Mark Twain needs to be sent back for re-education.
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sheesh. What a steaming pile of liberal nonsense. Anyone who has ever read Huck Finn knows that Twain was enormously sympathetic to the plight of slaves.
I can see why someone would take the Nword out of context as a slur. But in context, it is part of the language he was trying so diligently to capture.
But if we ARE going to allow this to happen, then we shouldn't stop with Twain. We should remix all of the hip-hop catalog to remove the N-word. And while we're at it, we should take out all the mysogenous terms like #itches, #os, and other hate speech. I might actually allow my kids to listen to hip-hop if it was sanitized to the standards of common decency. Probably not, but I might.
I don't know why this should surprise anybody - the nanny types have been after this book for years as being somehow "non-conforming" to modern ideals.
Those like Kristof only care about being non-abrasive and conformist having no use for history, context or literary accuracy.
I agree with DD above - if we're going to do this to a classic American author why can't we do this to Snoop Dog or Fiddy Cent, Marshal Mathers, et.al. In fact, I think those of us who like our literature unvarnished with the patina of political correctness should stand up and demand that all rap and/or hip hop be cleaned up with all traces of offensive words, cursing and references to drug use and sex removed.
After all, if it gets more people to listen to rap or hip hop, isn't that a good thing?
No one with any literary intellect could read this segment of Chapter 16 and still be unclear on just where Twain's heart was:
"Conscience says to me, 'What had poor Miss Watson done to you that you could see her nigger go off right under your eyes and never say one single word? What did that poor old woman do to you that you could treat her so mean? Why, she tried to learn you your book, she tried to learn you your manners, she tried to be good to you every way she knowed how. That's what she done.'
I got to feeling so mean and so miserable I most wished I was dead. I fidgeted up and down the raft, abusing myself to myself, and Jim was fidgeting up and down past me. We neither of us could keep still. Every time he danced around and says, 'Dah's Cairo!' it went through me like a shot, and I thought if it was Cairo I reckoned I would die of miserableness.
Jim talked out loud all the time while I was talking to myself. He was saying how the first thing he would do when he got to a free State he would go to saving up money and never spend a single cent, and when he got enough he would buy his wife, which was owned on a farm close to where Miss Watson lived; and then they would both work to buy the two children, and if their master wouldn't sell them, they'd get an Ab'litionist to go and steal them.
It most froze me to hear such talk. He wouldn't ever dared to talk such talk in his life before. Just see what a difference it made in him the minute he judged he was about free. It was according to the old saying, 'Give a nigger an inch and he'll take an ell.' Thinks I, this is what comes of my not thinking. Here was this nigger, which I had as good as helped to run away, coming right out flat-footed and saying he would steal his children - children that belonged to a man I didn't even know; a man that hadn't ever done me no harm.
I was sorry to hear Jim say that, it was such a lowering of him. My conscience got to stirring me up hotter than ever, until at last I says to it, 'Let up on me - it ain't too late yet - I'll paddle ashore at the first light and tell.' I felt easy and happy and light as a feather right off. All my troubles was gone. I went to looking out sharp for a light, and sort of singing to myself. By and by one showed. Jim sings out:
'We's safe, Huck, we's safe! Jump up and crack yo' heels! Dat's de good ole Cairo at las', I jis knows it!'
'I'll take the canoe and go and see, Jim. It mightn't be, you know.'
He jumped and got the canoe ready, and put his old coat in the bottom for me to set on, and give me the paddle; and as I shoved off, he says:
'Pooty soon I'll be a-shout'n' for joy, en I'll say, it's all on accounts o' Huck; I's a free man, en I couldn't ever ben free ef it hadn' ben for Huck; Huck done it. Jim won't ever forgit you, Huck; you's de bes' fren' Jim's ever had; en you's de only fren' ole Jim's got now.'
I was paddling off, all in a sweat to tell on him; but when he says this, it seemed to kind of take the tuck all out of me. I went along slow then, and I warn't right down certain whether I was glad I started or whether I warn't. When I was fifty yards off, Jim says:
'Dah you goes, de ole true Huck; de on'y white genlman dat ever kep' his promise to ole Jim.'
Well, I just felt sick. But I says, I got to do it - I can't get out of it. Right then along comes a skiff with two men in it with guns, and they stopped and I stopped. One of them says:
'What's that yonder?'
'A piece of a raft,' I says.
'Do you belong on it?'
'Any men on it?'
'Only one, sir.'
'Well, there's five niggers run off to-night up yonder, above the head of the bend. Is your man white or black?'
'I didn't answer up prompt. I tried to, but the words wouldn't come. I tried for a second or two to brace up and out with it, but I warn't man enough - hadn't the spunk of a rabbit. I see I was weakening; so I just give up trying, and up and says:
Yeah. Chuckleberry Blend is a fine novel. More people should read it. There's a real message there. I also enjoyed Shel Brooks' Grazing Battles. Epic stuff.
Censorship is illegal. If the "N" word is taken out of Mark Twain's book, then what is to stop all the bleeding heart liberals from censoring other books, art, and so on? I find this appalling.
Well i hate to run counter to the flow, but they do needs to take that N word out o' dat book.
Why, her i wuz, hadn't wanted to keep slaves at all ever befo', but readin' that little piece with that N word in it done chaaaanged my thinkin'! Yassuh, it done chaaanged my thinkin'!
Well you might say, yes, yes it twer supposed to do jes' that, to change a feller's thinkin', but only twards the other way, that is tward never ever wantin' to be no slaver or slave neither one.
But whoa hoss, you mus have forgot, i am a reporter feller up thar in New York City whar i writes a pinion colyums fo de New Yrok Times! So yewl hafta shut up now, and mind yore maners as if you had some.
I've lived in Alabama and Mississippi, and must say that the derogatory use of the N-word still exists among some white people. It's a bomb, most definitely, when used by such people, as well as a code word among a particular type of white racist; what is different nowadays is the widespread public intolerance for it. Such racists are feeling pretty lonely nowadays...and that's a good thing.
I'm white, and because of that, I won't knock the use of the N-word by black people, and also because I don't need to: the Morgan Freeman character in "Glory" wasn't speaking just for himself when did so thoroughly and for all time in a little "come to Jesus" talk he had with the Denzel Washington character.
Intolerance is one thing; censorship is something different.
First they go after the N-word. Then they absolutely must remove all references to Huck's smoking. And so forth, and so on, on through much of American history, until we ultimately get the sort of historical interpretation that one Russian gave his two comrades when he read a monument inscription in the original (and so far only) "Red Dawn."
American history and heritage: let's keep it real, even the parts that seem ugly today--especially those parts, lest in their absence, we come up with something even uglier.
And why not paint over some of Edward Hopper's works? Perhaps more people would view them.
I actually think Hopper was a better painter than Twaine a writer, but, the point stands.
But somehow Mapplethorpe's depiction of the Crucifix is okay?
You know, to edit a classic should be to forgo the use of the author's name as the author. The book title should not be used if there is even a single edit.
At a minimum, the edits should be footnoted, with the index containing the actual text.
Is there no recourse? No ''Estate of xxx'' to protect its property?