I know everyone’s talkin about taking the N-word outta Huck Finn. Just a reminder to those who think it’s no longer going to be offensive, there will still be 219 instances of the word “slave”. If I read 219 instances of the word “slave” w/in 300 pages, it’s still going to make me sick to my stomach.
They’re taking out the “n” word & the “in” word (that’s nigger & injun to those of you who haven’t heard yet). There are 219 instances of these words in the text, if you include the Table of Contents.
Here’s why I don’t mind it.
First, it’s ONE publishing company offering up ONE different version for a targeted demographic audience. Some of these students would actually prob not ever read this book if not forced to do so in school. We’re talking the deep South. Highly conservative ppl who likely have convinced their boards of education to not teach evolution. But I think we all remember some lumps of mass that we went to middle/high school with, & how they did nothing in class.
We live in a capitalist society, & I’m all for capitalism. Someone down in Alabama (a liberal prof, actually) found a need to push a product that can generate demand. He’s a smart dude. His daughter’s African-American friend felt uncomfortable being in a classroom w/ other kids reading the n-word here & there.
I don’t know if you remember your pre-teen & adolescent years, but they’re not easy for those who feel “different”…. & for the record, everyone feels different.
I despise censorship. But I also feel that if 12-17 year olds are reading this in a mixed class…. and I don’t mean “mixed” in ethnicity, but I mean it in terms of “mixed tolerance”…. then, some of those punks are going to emphasize that word w/ the mentality that they’re getting away w/ calling someone that. I can see some 16-yr old boy, raised by bigoted parents, sneering at someone else in the class as he e-nun-ci-ates the word clearly & deliberately.
This one publisher offering up this one edition of the book, targeted toward middle/junior-high schools is not censorship. It’s an opportunity for the text to be offered up to a greater audience. They can always pick up a copy of the actual text, then or in the future, from a bookstore/online/library.
I remember being 6 yrs old, & having a picture book of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn & Tom Sawyer. My parents bought me tons of “learner books” of stories & tales, so that I would read more & learn English. [You have to remember, I did not speak English when we first moved to the States when I was almost 5 yrs old]
There were picture books of it, then the original text by Mr. Twain. This new version is like a “stepping block”.
You know I’ve complained about the TX Board of Education stripping their curriculum… taking out Thomas Edison & wanting to teach more about country music!
Part of me is just scared of the direction some schools in the South are taking. It is my hope that this new edition limits the excuse that the book should be banned altogether in some schools, & that the students will learn upon entering the world (or from their parents) that it was not the truest version of what Twain wrote.
It is & will always be available in the uncut form everywhere else. I’ve watched edited versions of rated R movies on tv when I was 14. & I like that they play “radio edited versions” of certain songs/raps on the radio, b/c I don’t want some 8 yr who’s not going to understand it to hear it. I’m happy w/ letting my kids read the unedited (uncensored), rawest form of the book…. when they’re at an age when it’s appropriate for them. Even now, as an adult, I have an edited version of the Bhagvad Gita… b/c I don’t understand the old text, & I want to be able to read it, but need a version that I can comprehend.
Also, I am of the belief that Mr. Clemens wrote this book for adults. His fellow adult citizens of this country which, even after the Civil War, did not accept the end of slavery. So, it makes sense that a version w/out (what we consider) expletives is offered to a younger audience, just as is done w/ music on the radio or tv. Explicit versions of other media are still easily accessible for the youth via other venues (home/internet/library/stores).
Lastly, I certainly hope no one thought he was racist. He wrote a formal letter, asking to be able to pay tuition of a gifted young African-American, saying he was ashamed that this bright man was held down all his life & could be someone great one day, w/ his financial help.
“We have ground the manhood out of them, and the shame is ours and not theirs, and we should pay for it.”
This was from a letter to Francis Wayland, Dean of Yale Law School; written the same year that The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published. In this letter, Twain offered to pay the tuition of a black student at law school. He also paid the costs at a Southern school of a black student who became a minister.