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Matt Mikalatos

Problematic Classics: Four Questions to Ask When Beloved Books Haven’t Aged Well

I recently decided to reread T.H. White’s legendary classic, The Once and Future King. At first, I was delighted by the exact book I remembered from my youth: Wart (young King Arthur) being taught by Merlin, goofy King Pellinore, sullen Kay, a lot of ridiculous adventures, with some anti-war, anti-totalitarian commentary mixed in for good measure.

As I continued, I found some bits I didn’t remember. I hadn’t noticed the occasional asides about the “base Indians.” White says archery was a serious business once, before it was turned over to “Indians and boys.” He talks about the “destructive Indians” who chased the settlers across the plains. I did not feel good about this.

[Then I found the n-word…]

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