Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Danger of Historical Fiction

The latest pc rage is the volume of pundits, bloggers, educators and others rushing to reject the new revised publication of Huck Finn by Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain a fictional person. PC run amuck!

A fictional person wrote a fictional novel about a fictional account of slavery, racism etc . This novel of course was a imaginary tale that had nothing to do with the authentic reality of racism during Twain's era.

I have no reservations about the removal of fiction from fiction by a fictional writer. The construct of nigger was created and invented and invoked by whites who also invented the race card.

There is nothing historical about revision of fiction. When folks start revising history and reality then I will join the herd...


D.M. McGowan said...

By changing Mark Twain's (or Samual Clements, if you prefer) work they have made a massive change to history and the perception of same.
And by saying that racism is a construct of whites agains other races that is a massive distortion of history.
Racism has existed in all races against other races since the dawn of time. The color of skin has nothing to do with it, it's just an excuse.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the problem is that the general populace is looking at this specific instance very broadly and you are looking at it very specifically. If we allow any sort of revisionist censorship, in fiction, blogs, newspapers, tv programs or anything, then it allows for revisions and censorship on any sort of media including our history books. You must be aware of that as the root point of the entire conversation.

Also I didn't understand this comment from you "Black americans don't utter some fiction..Clearly my posts don't..I deal with reality not fiction..."

In relation to that, what about The Color Purple by Alice Walker or Roots by Alex Haley or even Push by Sapphire. These works of fiction were written by extremely intelligent African Americans and use the n-word and other derogatory words profusely. If a publisher in the south wanted to remove the use of the n-word in those works, would you consider it censorship of a black person? Or is it ok to remove the word from those stories because they're once again fiction?

I'm just looking for your perspective on these matters and hoping that you are consistent with your opinions. I don't fully understand your stance on the topic and felt like many of your response comments to Mr. Wattrick's article seemed contradictory.

Denny said...

I'm still trying to understand Greg's point. Should we rewrite history and make it the way we would have wanted it to be? There is nothing fictional about the demeaning use of the word nigger. There is nothing depicted in the book that isn't accurate.

The story itself is fiction but the framework is not. What parts of the book aren't true to life? Would using the word slave be more acceptable? That seems pretty demeaning too.

Would you recommend another book that would be better. What novel might be used in it's place. It's easy to throw out the criticism...but how about some positive suggestions?

Thrasher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thrasher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thrasher said...

@ D.M.

I am not changing history by advocating the revision of fiction in a fictional novel. It is factual in America whites engaged in racist behavior toward Blacks and gave it even legal standing...Yes of course racism has existed since the dawn of time etc..I am concerned with America's racism where the hue of an American made white racism lethal for non-whites


Revisions are not censorship no government or person is censoring this fictional novel.This novel is not a historical event or document. I am not a fictional author like Alice Walker and if a publisher sought to revise her novels for more readership I have no problem with that.Again the original novel remains . My comments are very straight perhaps you are the one with contradictions?
@ Denny,

No one is rewriting history, Twain's novel was a fictional book not a historical event or document. I never posted that the word nigger was not demeaning actually I am advocating that it is a ugly hate speech that our children should not be subject to in classroom . Fictional is imaginary art what is accurate about it? I am be positive but advocating for the revision of the hate speech in the novel as a means for more children to engaged it. Please check with you library for recommended book lists etc..

basketbills said...

Greg...thanks for answering. I'm glad you aren't dismissing all fiction.

What do you think about Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, or Native Son by Richard Wright?

Thrasher said...


I find both novels outstanding and iconic in Black Literature and I would have no problem if a publisher wanted to published a revised editions for classroom usage..

What people failed to comprehend is that no one is altering the original texts of any classic!!!!!!

no_slappz said...


I've got a feeling you've never read Invisible Man (either by Ralph Ellison or H.G. Wells) or Native Son.

In any case, Native Son is much inferior to Invisible Man (the Ellison version).

Thrasher said...


I have read hundreds of novels from classics to paperbacks to graphic novels..

Please bring some value to my blog the next time you post..Please insert a passage from a Black Classic it would help.

Jem said...

Clemens finesses the question of Jim's manhood by making him the artist, beginning of Ch 2, his voice is the narrative voice, his spirit the presiding spirit. A "man" would pitch two drunken thugs holding him and his friend prisoner overboard, I'd think. There is a white problem; it is manifested in a hundred years of literary critics giving "Jim" an EPITHET, as if her were "pius Aeneas" or "swift-footed Achilles." He has no epithet, but since A B Paine's 1912 biography, there it is. The greatsouled "Jim" character, I repeat, is presented as the artist, the guy who keeps the time on his violin while the other guys all swing their sledges. Jewboys love to sit around the fire and talk about witches--jewboys is big supporters of the arts--