Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Not sure how I feel about this one... The curse of political correctness has struck again.

Brand spankin' new editions of Mark Twain's "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and "Tom Sawyer" plan to replace the N-word with "slave" in a blatant effort to not offend readers.

But what about offending writers? However damaging or insesitive, you can't just CHANGE a writer's work.

Twain scholar Alan Gribben is working with NewSouth Books in Alabama to publish a combined volume of the books in February and says the N-word appears 219 times in "Huck Finn" and four times in "Tom Sawyer."

Gribben tells the Associated Press that he has used "slave" instead of the N-word at public readings and audiences are more accepting.

Isn't that nice?? 'Ol Samuel Clemens must be rolling over in his grave.

Obviously, Twain scholars are in a virtual tizzy and have blasted his decision and Gribben has received a plethora of hate mail that accuse him of destroying one of the greatest literary works in America.

Stephen Railton, a University of Virginia professor and Twain scholar has said Gribben was well respected, but tells the AP that the new version is a terrible idea.


  1. WTF was exactly my reaction to that headline. Sure, it's not a word you want to read, and certainly not out loud, but you can't tidy history, polish it up and only show the good parts. And Twains original works show some of the warts. I think instances like this provide a good opportunity for discussion. Nothing is served by pretending.

  2. WTF!! The "N" word is still used everyday in the black community. It seems to be only offensive if a white person uses it. And here's me thinking racism is dying out!

    Rant over.

    Work should only ever be changed with permission of the author! End of story!

  3. WTF exactly! What are we cleaning up next? Mein Kampf? Cleaning up anything written in the past is rewriting history. We can learn from what was written. And nobody's work should ever be screwed with. Ever.

  4. hummm, isn't this trying to WHITE-wash history?? The book is of literary importance and historical importance as well - altering it to be more palatable by what I can only assume is a white audience is an act of assault against the human mind and endeavor. What crap. I already knew about this and chose to blatantly ignore it for now and see what happens. The thought must be that to negate feelings concerning the past is to simply not teach the past - because that is the best way to avoid misunderstandings.

  5. wtf indeed. where has the world of political correctness taken us? I saw the argument of one of the publishers and his take that by doing this more students who wouldn't otherwise get to read Twain in school (due to enlightened book banning - can you say Fahrenheit 451?)WOULD AT LEAST GET THE EXPOSURE. GREAT, LETS CATER TO THE LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR and demonstrate to our kids that they should cave on any issue involving integrity as long as they can be politically correct - sheesh.

  6. So... WHY? I mean honestly, did they get a lot of complaints from offended readers? Did the word miraculously transform perfectly normal young children into racists?

    Yeah... I don't know what to say. I wonder what I'm writing into my stories now that will be cleaned up later on, when I'm finally revealed to be an out-of-date hack.

  7. While I understand the concern with censorship I don't think it's that big of a deal to alter the n-word in Twain's text, at least for schoolkids. Huck Finn's an important book perhaps tho' nearly all dialect--the n-word was a common usage for, well, hicks, but probably not in Bawstun.

    Clemens was no EAPoe, or Hawthorne, but ...a journalist first and foremost. His journalistic reports (such as Roughing It) and so forth impress a bit but as a writer of fiction I don't think he's a "great." We might question whether the book should even be taught as a model of anglo-prose, as say...the Scarlet Letter is.

    Conrad's "N-word of the Narcissus" poses a slightly different issue. Conrad's no crackerbarrel journalist, first off, but authentic scribe, though not too PC. The book probably should not be taught in high schools. In college courses, yes, with a caveat--historical context, imperialism, Oppressor-ness, so forth.


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