Questions on Mark TwainI don't know how I ended up with this book on my shelves, but I picked it up some time or other in the last 12 months and today I picked it off the bookshelf and began browsing through it. It is Barry Sanders, *The Private Death of Public Discourse* (Boston: Beacon Press, 1998). Sanders is an English Professor at Pitzer College, and from some browsing in it it is sort of a more polished and less aggressively naive version of *The Greening of America*, a loony tunes book published back in the late 60s. Any how, one chapter of it is a celebration of Mark Twain as a forerunner of the '60s --the '60s being Savio, King, other heartwarmers (I'm not objecting to Savio or King but to the use Sanders puts them). Anyhow, he writes the following paragraph:
Twain had to create Jim to invigorate Huck. Ellison made clear the importance of blacks in maintaining linguistic vitality in America. One cannot write about this country -- on any conceivable subject, I am convinced -- without confronting issues of race. We must imagine some Other, some self, unfettered and uninhibited by technology -- a self as stranger in our own lives -- to reinvigorate our own daily daily language. (pp. 22-23)
Query: Who is "We" in the last sentence of this passage? Sanders begins by quoting Ellison, the author of a book about the invisibility of blacks in the U.S. And within a sentence "We" find "ourselves" needing an "other" -- namely, them there blacks out there. Can anything more vividly dramatize the depths of racism in the United States, and the irrelevance of debates about individual intentions, than this serene racism in an anti-racist argument?
Second Query: Could this also suggest why so many black critics have not warmed to Twain -- doesn't Twain simply use Jim to save the soul of Huck?
My questions on Sanders are rhetorical, but that on Twain is not.