Auburn University professor Alan Gribben, along with NewSouth Books, plans to release a newly edited edition of the Mark Twain classic, with every instance of the N-word replaced with the word "slave."
"This is not an effort to render 'Tom Sawyer' and 'Huckleberry Finn' colorblind," Gribben told Publisher's Weekly. "Race matters in these books. It's a matter of how you express that in the 21st century."
"Huckleberry Finn" is notorious for being relegated to banned reading lists and removed from school curricula based on Twain's word choice, so this decision is probably better than going "Fahrenheit 451" on a book that Ernest Hemingway called the source of "all modern American literature." On the other hand, purists insist that editing the classic will detract from its value and historical context in American history.
Is the find-and-replace edition of "Huckleberry Finn" too politically correct? Surge Desk compiles reactions from across the Internet.
First, co-founder of NewSouth Books Suzanne La Rosa explains the publisher's decision:
"We recognised that some people would say that this was censorship of a kind. But our feeling is that there are plenty of other books out there -- all of them, in fact -- that faithfully replicate the text, and that this was simply an option for those who were increasingly uncomfortable ... insisting students read a text which was so incredibly hurtful."Entertainment Weekly's Keith Staskiewicz plays the devils advocate:
"If this puts the book into the hands of kids who would not otherwise be allowed to read it due to forces beyond their control (overprotective parents and the school boards they frighten), then maybe we shouldn't be so quick to judge. It's unfortunate, but is it really any more catastrophic than a TBS-friendly re-edit of "The Godfather," you down-and-dirty melon farmer? The original product is changed for the benefit of those who, for one reason or another, are not mature enough to handle it, but as long as it doesn't affect the original, is there a problem?"VIP Breakdown's K.C. Morgan points to what the edited edition will sacrifice:
"The fact is, Mark Twain didn't live in today's frighteningly over-the-top, PC world. Maybe we shouldn't try to erase all reminders that his era ever existed. The world of Huck Finn serves as a living reminder of where we've been. Sometimes, it's ugly. But it's still just a story, and somehow we don't think Twain would like having any of his words changed because his book makes people uncomfortable."Firedog Lake's Michael Whitney is all about the author's intent:
"In my book, changing loaded, powerful words in a literary classic to better 'express it in the 21st century' is no better than George Lucas 'updating' the original Star Wars films to some bastardized, unrecognizable iteration of itself. You ruin the original intent of the book and force new readers to run from the reality in which the book was written and the historical context that followed."Gawker's Richard Lawson is on the same page, so to speak:
"So ... great! I myself am working on a new edition of 'Othello' in which the word 'Moor' is replaced with 'nice man.'"
And, just because, here's one snarky comment from Twitter:
Glad to see they are censoring Huckleberry Finn. Hopefully next they'll paint Snuggies onto all these nude people in old European art.
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