Hi Folks: This story is getting a lot of coverage today. There is a new version of the book Huck Finn being released where they take out the "N-Word." What do you all think about this--is it a good solution to help fight racism and get the book more widely read again or does it merely gloss over the problem of racial oppression and tamper with a literary artifact? -JRR
New edition of 'Huck Finn' to remove 'N-word'By Amy Guth
January 5, 2011
The classic novel, being re-released by NewSouth, will replace the "n-word," which appears 219 times in the original text, with the word "slave." A derogatory term for Native Americans will be cut from the new edition.
In a press release, NewSouth says of the decision and of Twain scholar Dr. Alan Gribben the move is "intended to counter the 'preemptive censorship' that Dr. Gribben observes has caused these important works of literature to fall off curriculum lists nationwide."
In a statement to Publisher’s Weekly, Gribben says of the change, "Race matters in these books. It's a matter of how you express that in the 21st century."
The book has been the subject of scrutiny for a number of years, and has been increasingly banned from school libraries in the US.
"I'm hoping that people will welcome this new option, but I suspect that textual purists will be horrified," he told PW. "Already, one professor told me that he is very disappointed that I was involved in this."
UCLA's Twain scholar, Thomas Wortham told Publisher's Weekly the edited version of the classic "doesn't challenge children to ask, 'Why would a child like Huck use such reprehensible language?'"
The Mark Twain House and Museum offers education for teachers on how best to teach the book and its complexities. Education program manager for the museum, Craig Hotchkiss said in a statement to MSNBC.com:
"The time to read the original version is when the student can understand it in context of history. There are strategies for teaching this book, unabridged."
"I think that things ought to be handled in a pedagogical responsible way. There is a difference between an honors literature class in high school and a fifth grade class taking a look at Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn as a book off American nostalgia. The purpose of literature is to get under your skin. To provoke and that's what Mark Twain does. It's isn’t a feel-good book. It’s a dark book but it’s worth reading because it's timeless. It touches on very core American themes."