Edited "Huckleberry Finn" Removes N-word
January 7, 2011
Mark Twain’s classic The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has had a long history of stirring controversy since it was first released in 1885. For years, many educators banned the book from school reading lists for its repeated use of racial slurs, including 219 instances of the N-word.
A new, sanitized version of Huckleberry Finn, edited by Auburn Montgomery Twain scholar Alan Gribben, replaces the racial slur with “slave.” Gribben hopes the substitutions will make the book more accessible for grade school classrooms and "general readers" who may have been discouraged by the original’s offensive language, he told Publishers Weekly. "For a single word to form a barrier, it seems such an unnecessary state of affairs," he said.
Critics, including Craig Hotchkiss, the Education Program Manager at the Mark Twain House and Museum, argue the sanitized version “destroys the book's potency as great historical literature” and teaching tool. “Huckleberry Finn is not a happy or comfortable book to read,” Hotchkiss wrote on huffingtonpost.com, “but there can be no doubt that it still is one of the essential books we Americans should read in order to understand and reflect upon the ugliest and most divisive aspect of our national story and character.”
Would you want your child to read the original text or the new, cleaned-up version?