Sunday, February 6, 2011

Michael Chabon on The Huck Finn Debate

Chabon on reading his kids Huck Finn/ Struggling with the n word:

"Next I reminded them that Mark Twain was a great artist, a moral man and, furthermore, an accurate writer. I said that as a writer myself the idea of somebody taking the words I had worked so hard to get absolutely correct and spatchcocking in whatever nonsense made them comfortable made me insane. Then I asked them what they thought I ought to do, whenever I arrived at the word in the course of the next few months. I told them how I had substituted "slave" while we were reading Tom Sawyer, but that in this book the word was going to mean so vastly much more, and less, than that...

"Hey, Dad," the little guy asked me at one point. "How come if you can't say you-know-what, when you were reading Tom Sawyer you kept saying INJUN Joe, because that's offensive, too."

"Because I'm an ass," I said. Only I didn't say "ass."

-The Atlantic, January 12th

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