“I Am Greatly Troubled By What You Say”


In a Letter of Note from earlier this week, Mark Twain replies to a librarian’s note concerning the Brooklyn Public Library ban on Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn in his characteristically wry and confounding way.

After the library found copies of  Twain’s most famous works in the children’s room at the library, Asa Dickinson, the man writing Twain, defended the books and admitted to having read Huck Finn to “defenseless blind people, without regard to their age, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Twain didn’t give the man much sympathy and explained the danger that uncouth reading subjects present to children: “I know this by my own experience, and to this day I cherish an unappeasable bitterness against the unfaithful guardians of my young life, who not only permitted but compelled me to read an unexpurgated Bible through before I was 15 years old.”

Graham Todd is an intern at The Rumpus. He spends his mornings writing post-apocalyptic, vaguely biblical sci-fi horror comedy, his evenings tutoring the wide-eyed youth of the Palo Alto area, and his Thursdays at The Rumpus office, effectively “off the streets”. Beyond this weekly ritual, he enjoys karaoke, the movies, and jogging. More from this author →