Welcome to Soviet America; it's happening here, albeit with some of our classical literature. From Free Republic I learned that Publisher's Weekly reports that leading Mark 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." The "N-word" reportedly appears 219 times in Huck Finn alone. The replacement, which will combine Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn into a single book entitled "Mark Twain's Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn: The NewSouth Edition", is expected to be on shelves by February, with a hardcover price of $24.95.
"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."
Apparently concerning Gribben is the fact that Huck Finn has been disappearing from grade school curricula across the country, relegated to optional reading lists, or banned outright, appearing again and again on lists of the nation's most challenged books, and all for its repeated use of a single, singularly offensive word: "Nigger", even though you can still say "Nigga" in popular culture. Many teachers have told Gribben that they would love to use the books in their classrooms, but feel they can't do it anymore, because in the new classroom, it's considered unacceptable.
Of course, school safety might be a possible issue here. Since many blacks, particularly those who live in the inner cities, have become so over-sensitized to race and so inflated with a false sense of entitlement, they over-react to real or perceived slights. Thus I can envision an inner-city classroom full of black students possibly erupting if the original Huck Finn were to be given to them by a teacher who doesn't know how to effectively control a classroom.
But still, in a sense, this guy is literally re-writing history, even if it is merely literary history. Two comments posted to the Publisher's Weekly story effectively sum up the opposition:
by: @ 20110103141950:
What these arrogant, narrow-minded fools are doing is disgusting. White-washing history to ignore the bad bits doesn't help anyone to learn from the past. Rather than taking the opportunity to use the text as a discussion on history, race, identity and social mores, this group of self-entitled PC tyrants are trying to erase classic literature. Part of what made Mark Twain so amazing was that he exposed the hypocrisy of the times; i.e., calling someone a friend, yet using a derisive term for that person. What's next to be whitewashed? Remove the curse words from Catcher in the Rye? How about erasing the sex from DH Lawrence, Ernest Hemingway or Henry Miller? How about removing the drug use in Jack Kerouac or Hunter S Thompson? How about removing the gay from Oscar Wilde, Evelyn Waugh or James Baldwin? Life isn't all PC, white and middle class. In fact, much of it is quite the opposite. Changing literature to reflect current attitudes of a specific group has only one name, that is and should be reviled by anyone who calls themselves a book-lover: it is CENSORSHIP.
by: TheLiteraryWord @ 20110103164659:
I find this truly offensive. The justification of editing the book in order to make it more appropriate for the here and now is just, simply put, a crock. I began reading long before my schooling started and I have maintained a strong passion for all things literary ever since. Thankfully my mother raised me to read freely, books of any nature and on any subject and I believe this literary freedom is mostly responsible for the open-minded, tolerant, and free-thinking adult that I have become. Reading is something that enriches our lives, not hinders it and the historical issues that are contained in books such as this one are truly important. As someone has stated, life is not politically correct and okay, so as a white person it could be argued that I don't understand how offensive such terminology can be but I see this issue from all sides. Were I a person of colour, I would STILL be outraged at this. People of different races have all had their struggles and heaven knows that the struggle to defeat slavery and to obtain equal rights was one hell of a battle. I would find it truly offensive that anyone could choose to downplay the horrors and problems that my ancestors had to deal with. Leave history alone! It doesn't make it any less offensive by doing this to a work of fiction rather than a history book, rather, it makes it worse. The works of fiction are usually where our children begin to learn about the harsh realities of the world but in a safe and informative way. This act is truly abominable.
One commenter to the Entertainment Weekly story expressed this interesting thought:
joblo Mon 01/03/11 5:33 PM:
Hey, maybe we should re-edit Schindler’s List and remove all of the disgusting things that the Nazis do. After all, it’s OFFENSIVE, and we need to be careful about “how you express that in the 21st Century.” This is the height of stupid. Whitewashing the language of an era does nothing positive and makes it impossible to learn from that time.