NewSouth Books will soon publish a version of Twain's literary masterpiece, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, without the N word. The publishing company replaced this word with slave and also changed Injun to Indian. Read the article here.
While I think that reworking/republishing/recreating Huck Finn with these changes is worse than Victor Frankenstein's idea to create life from death, there was also something else just as disturbing in Julie Bosman's story:
"Some English teachers were less than thrilled about the idea of cleaning up a classic.
"I’m not offended by anything in ‘Huck Finn,’ ” said Elizabeth Absher, an English teacher at South Mountain High School in Arizona. “I am a big fan of Mark Twain, and I hear a lot worse in the hallway in front of my class.”
Ms. Absher teaches Twain short stories and makes “Huck Finn” available but does not teach it because it is too long — not because of the language.
“I think authors’ language should be left alone,” she said. “If it’s too offensive, it doesn’t belong in school, but if it expresses the way people felt about race or slavery in the context of their time, that’s something I’d talk about in teaching it.”
Absher doesn't teach Huck Finn because it's too short? Really? Just a minute, I'm going to walk to my bookshelf and find my cherished, tattered copy to see how many pages prevents Absher's students from reading this novel. I'll be right back.
Sorry about the delay. I could have Googled the question but I thought I'd find out the old fashion way. Using my 1997 McDougal Littell, Literature Connections text, I counted 338 pages. It's too bad Absher's students won't discover Huck's internal battle between his deformed conscience and sound heart. It's too bad Absher's students won't discover Twain's attitude toward the foolish and racist Duke and the King. It's too bad Absher's students won't see how Twain uses words to create an intelligent, sensitive and compassionate character in Jim.
I wonder if Absher understands the AP Language and the AP Literature tests take three hours to complete. What if that's too long to expect students to sit?
And what about Absher's closing quote: “I think authors’ language should be left alone,” she said. “If it’s too offensive, it doesn’t belong in school, but if it expresses the way people felt about race or slavery in the context of their time, that’s something I’d talk about in teaching it.”
Ms. Absher, what if the book does express the way people felt about race or slavery during that time and it's offensive? Using that logic Huck Finn would never be read. No Huck Finn, no Othello. No 1984. No Brave New World. No Their Eyes Were Watching God. No....too many other literary classics that reveal and criticize man's flawed understanding of humanity.
I digress. If NewSouth Books publishes this Franken-book it better not use Twain as the author. That's not the book he wrote.
Oh, and another hypocritical point about this version...