Can I tell you something. Got to tell you one thing. If you expect the freedom that you say is yours prove that you deserve it. Help us to preserve it or being free will just be words and nothing more.
Kansas, 1974

Friday, January 07, 2011

"Too drunk to get there..."

Now in all of the fuss about altering Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn so as to not tread on certain people's sensibilities I came across a reading of this bit of text from the book;
Thinks I, what is the country a-coming to? It was 'lection day, and I was just about to go and vote myself if I weren't too drunk to get there; but when they told me there was a state in this country where they'd let that nigger vote, I drawed out. I says I'll never vote again.

You can listen to, or read the transcript of, this conversation here, Should The N-Word Be Purged From Mark Twain’s Classic?

You know what jumped out at me when I heard this? It wasn't the word nigger. It was the image of a man who was too drunk to vote getting all indignant that someone he considered inferior to himself was exercising that particular civic duty. That's a powerful image to me. Changing nigger to slave (as has been done to a recent edition of the book) in this passage makes no sense and you loose the compelling picture of the educated negro who takes the time to vote against all opposition to him doing so and the poor white man who was too drunk to bother. I guess I fall into the camp that says leave Mark Twain's work as he wrote it.

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