The Trouble Begins: Mark Twain & Critical Race Theory
Laura Skandera Trombley and Ann Ryan explore Mark Twain’s writing as just one example of how thoroughly American it is to try to unravel the knot of race, racism, and U.S. history.
Most Americans, many of whom have never read Mark Twain’s fiction, position him at one ideological extreme or another: either he’s a secular saint, the quintessential icon of wholesome, wisecracking, humanistic American values, or he’s an embodiment of white privilege, a white man in a white suit whose pleasure — reflected in his love of racial caricature and racist vocabulary — is an inverse measure of someone else’s pain. Both extremes traffic in the sorts of moral absolutes that Mark Twain found as dangerous as they are simplistic and regressive.
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