Thursday, January 06, 2011

Huck Finn and the N word

What's the use you learning to do right, when it's troublesome to do right and ain't no trouble to do wrong, and the wages is just the same?

There's an interesting debate going on right now about a new version of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn which is about to be published, with the numerous instances of the "n" word replaced with the word "slave."*

An educator and Twain scholar is behind the new edition, supposedly because he wanted it to be more easily taught and less offensive. More

I really love that book, despite the repetition of that noxious word. I agree that it's difficult to teach, because I foolheartedly tried to do so myself back when I was younger and slightly stupider and didn't think too far ahead. But, I disagree with re-writing history, especially when it's done to gloss over an unhappy part of our history. Facing up to our shameful past is difficult, but it can lead to greater understanding and compassion. It's really disappointing to me when I hear that educators censor, because they're passing up on such a perfect opportunity to have a thoughtful dialogue about the material. Luckily, I don't think I'm alone, because I've seen a number of articles condemning the new book, but, it looks like it will be published and will be available in schools.

I presume that the reason this is even possible is because the book is older than 100 years old, but I don't understand the copyright issues. I would assume that the Twain estate might have some control over the rights. Can anyone republish an edition of a book older than 100 years and change whatever they like?

Word of the Day: Bowdlerize

Here's an article with a pro-new addition slant.

* Apparently also "Injun Joe" is changed to "Indian Joe" and "half-breed" to "half-blood."


Anonymous said...

This is all about limiting Free Speech. After all, censorship is everywhere. The gov’t (and their big business cronies) censor free speech, shut down dissent and ban the book “America Deceived II”. Free speech for all.
Last link (before Google Books bans it also]:

KHM said...

I am horrified by this revision. Its unconscionable to edit this classic...oh. I can't even talk about it.

Our nation's history isn't always pretty: deal. Teach. Learn.