Thursday, January 6, 2011

More on Huck Finn

Michiko Kakutani has a good piece in The New York Times appropriately titled Light Out, Huck, They Still Want to Sivilize You.

9 comments:

AC said...

We all know the moment teenagers are told not to do something they hustle to make sure they do it as quickly as possible. Let's keep telling them Huck Finn is dangerous. They'll read it and learn something about the sharper end of American humor which will, in turn, make them smarter.

One thing the article kind of brought up is the notion that DWM's shouldn't be taught in school anymore (DWM, for those who don't know, is a ghoulish term referring to Dead White Male authors). I can attest, having taught at Crenshaw High School in South Los Angeles, that sooner or later, students in inner-city schools figure out they are being condescended with "culturally-relevant" reading lists that don't include the authors their peers will have read when they get to college. When my students told me they didn't like the textbooks we were using, the ones that excluded "DWMs", I asked them who they would rather me teach. The answer, in every class, was Shakespeare. These kids aren't dumb-- they know they are not being prepared for the university and they do not appreciate the feel-good Polite Police patting them on the head with books that, while worthwhile, do not represent the entire of American literature.

Here's a funky idea: How about we teach examples of ALL American literature? Naw, that makes too much sense!

Reb said...

It is sad that people think they have the right to protect me or anyone else from reading a great book. We are so far down the road to bland conformity and too many people do not realize it. As the author of the article pointed out though, it has been done before and I am sure it will continue to be done long after we are gone. I find amusing the anti-cuss measures mentioned at the end. I knew something like that was coming the moment they forced the anti-smoking through.

David Cranmer said...

AC, This comment you left was so damn good it should become a post all by itself. I experienced "culturally-relevant" reading lists of a slightly different nature. I went to a religious private school growing up and never read THE CATCHER IN THE RYE or books like FINN because they had bad words or Tom and Huck were dangerous influences according to the enlightened minds that instructed me.

Good on those students for demanding Shakespeare.

Reb, Yes it goes on and on. Something is always offending some group somewhere. Mr. Twain is laughing his ass off right now and knowingly shaking his head.

David Cranmer said...

BTW I'm almost done reading FINN. I know the story from the coutless flicks I've seen but (no surprise here) the novel is a slice of brilliance and so much better.

Oscar said...

The damn do-gooders are always screwing something up.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

I don't want to use to much profanity but that's how this makes me all feel - why don't those brain dead arseholes who want to sanitise everything just fuck off! Bastards!

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Whoops "TOO" much

Ron Scheer said...

I also had a parochial school education, grades 1-8 and thankfully not more. In about the 7th grade, our school, which had no library until then, was given a couple hundred books as a memorial for a student who had died. When it was discovered that there were even words like "gosh" and "darn" in these books, we had to go through them with pens and blot them out. Awful and stupid.

David Cranmer said...

Oscar, I'm not sure I'd even call them do-gooders.

Gary, What's sad is we allow these narrow mined minority bastards to call the shots.

Ron, That was my education which looking back was ok in the lower grades but when I reached high school I wished I had transferred to public. Yeah, there were books in my school with horrendous profanity like “hell” and “damn” blotted out.