Main | Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Censoring Mark Twain

In an effort to get school kids to read Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, a new version edited by a Twain scholar will excise the novel's 219 usages of the n-word. Finn is rarely taught in public schools anymore due to discomfort with the word, even though most agree its use is meant as an attack on slavery.
Twain himself defined a "classic" as "a book which people praise and don't read." Rather than see Twain's most important work succumb to that fate, Twain scholar Alan Gribben and NewSouth Books plan to release a version of Huckleberry Finn, in a single volume with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, that does away with the "n" word (as well as the "in" word, "Injun") by replacing it with the word "slave." "This is not an effort to render Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn colorblind," said Gribben, speaking from his office at Auburn University at Montgomery, where he's spent most of the past 20 years heading the English department. "Race matters in these books. It's a matter of how you express that in the 21st century."

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