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Soft in the Head

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To the editors:

I'm surprised you let pass unchallenged the remarkable letter of Christina Athanasiades [August 5], who claimed to be "an authority on [Mark] Twain," "as I've taken graduate college courses . . . and read all his works," yet made the incredible claim that Pudd'nhead Wilson is "the most racist book ever being (sic) in print." If it were at all racist that would be an imposing statement (has she read everything else? Dixon's The Clansman? The Turner Diaries?), but of course, as any high school freshman can tell you, Pudd'nhead Wilson is a neat satire on the idea of racial characteristics. A black baby raised as white turns out every bit as snobbish, narrow-minded and jealous of class privilege as any other white of his time; a white, subjected to servitude and lack of education, comes out as ignorant and subservient as any black of his time. A misanthropic view, to be sure, but hardly racist. I guess Ms. Athanasiades is proof that you can attend graduate courses till you're blue in the face and still come out a pudd'nhead.

Michael Gebert

N. Racine

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