A publisher is planning to release a new edition of two of Mark Twain’s classic novels that replaces the racial slurs used throughout the books with less offensive language.
NewSouth Books will release a single volume containing both novels, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, overseen by Twain scholar Alan Gribben, Publisher’s Weekly said. In both, the n-word is replaced with the word “slave” and the word “Injun” is removed.
“This is not an effort to render Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn colourblind,” said Mr Gribben, the head of the English department at Auburn University at Montgomery in Alabama. “Race matters in these books. It’s a matter of how you express that in the 21st century.”
The n-word appears 219 times in the current edition of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, including the table of contents. The racially-charged language has resulted in the book being banned from many grade school curricula and libraries over the decades despite its status as a classic of American literature.
Mr Gribben said he was inspired by speaking with teachers who were disappointed that the language in the book prevented them from teaching it.
“They said ‘we would love to teach [Tom Sawyer] and Huckleberry Finn, but we feel we can’t do it anymore.’ In the new classroom, it’s really not acceptable,” he said. “For a single word to form a barrier, it seems such an unnecessary state of affairs.”
Again another case of Political correctness gone mad. I feel this will change the whole story line, it definitely would not be the same book, it would change the story into something it’s not. I don’t agree with this at all , as far as I’m concerned it’s madness. I grew up like so many others learning and reading Mark Twain in English classes many years ago, and I just can’t understand why people cannot see things the way they were meant to be seen.
I would like to know who objects to these books, how many people actually think certain words in the books should be changed, does anyone actually know. Is it the majority of the population? Why are teachers being restrained in this way, it’s ridiculous, are the parents complaining about Mark Twain books? Questions I feel that we will never know the answer too.
Twain began his career writing light, humorous verse, but evolved into a chronicler of the vanities, hypocrisies and murderous acts of mankind. At mid-career, with Huckleberry Finn, he combined rich humor, sturdy narrative and social criticism. Twain was a master at rendering colloquial speech and helped to create and popularize a distinctive American literature built on American themes and language. Many of Twain’s works have been suppressed at times for various reasons. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been repeatedly restricted in American high schools, not least for its frequent use of the word “nigger”, which was in common usage in the pre-Civil War period in which the novel was set.
A complete bibliography of his works is nearly impossible to compile because of the vast number of pieces written by Twain (often in obscure newspapers) and his use of several different pen names. Additionally, a large portion of his speeches and lectures have been lost or were not written down; thus, the collection of Twain’s works is an ongoing process. Researchers rediscovered published material by Twain as recently as 1995.
Learn more about Mark Twain in Wikipedia. See also for larger versions of the photo’s above.