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Playing the RacesEthnic Caricature and American Literary Realism$
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Henry B. Wonham

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195161946

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195161946.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 05 March 2021

“I Want a Real Coon”: Twain and Ethnic Caricature

“I Want a Real Coon”: Twain and Ethnic Caricature

(p.69) 2 “I Want a Real Coon”: Twain and Ethnic Caricature
Playing the Races

Henry B. Wonham (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores Mark Twain's life-long fascination with ethnic humor and caricature, highlighting the oxymoronic logic involved in his affection for “the genuine nigger show” and other forms of patently racist entertainment. This book traces the history of minstrel comedy in America and its transformation during the late 19th century into a new set of comedic conventions, including the “coon show” and the “variety show.” The chapter also explores the relationship between Huckleberry Finn's illustrations, which draw heavily on “coon” imagery and the novel's ostensibly “realist” tendencies.

Keywords:   Mark Twain, minstrelsy, variety show, coon imagery, illustration, racism, Pink Marsh, Ernest Hogan, Hucklebuerry Finn, stereotype

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