Read this article and watch a video. Explain what happened and give your opinion.

New Huckleberry Finn edition censors ‘n-word’

Alabama publisher says expurgation of more than 200 ‘hurtful epithets’ will counter ‘pre-emptive censorship’ that has seen Mark Twain’s classic dropped from curricula

Mark Twain 

Mark Twain in 1884. Photograph: Getty Images

A new US edition of Mark Twain‘s classic novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is to be published with a notable language alteration: all instances of the offensive racial term “nigger” are to be expunged.

The word occurs more than 200 times in Huckleberry Finn, first published in 1884, and its 1876 precursor, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which tell the story of the boys’ adventures along the Mississippi river in the mid-19th century. In the new edition, the word will be replaced in each instance by “slave”. The word “injun” will also be replaced in the text.

The new edition’s Alabama-based publisher, NewSouth books, says the development is a “bold move compassionately advocated” by the book’s editor, Twain scholar Dr Alan Gribben of Auburn University, Montgomery. It will have the effect, the publisher claims, of replacing “two hurtful epithets” in order to “counter the ‘pre-emptive censorship‘ that Dr Gribben observes has caused these important works of literature to fall off curriculum lists worldwide.”

Gribben said he had decided on the move because over decades of teaching Twain, and reading sections of the text aloud, he had found himself recoiling from uttering the racial slurs in the words of the young protagonists. “The n-word possessed, then as now, demeaning implications more vile than almost any insult that can be applied to other racial groups,” he said. “As a result, with every passing decade this affront appears to gain rather than lose its impact.”

“We may applaud Twain’s ability as a prominent American literary realist to record the speech of a particular region during a specific historical era,” Gribben added, “but abusive racial insults that bear distinct connotations of permanent inferiority nonetheless repulse modern-day readers.”

Twain himself was a passionate critic of American racism, and donated money to a number of civil rights organisations including the nascent NAACP, as well as ironically critiquing prejudice in both Huckleberry Finn and the later novel Puddn’head Wilson. But controversy over his language is not new: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finncame in fifth on the American Library Association’s list of the most “banned or challenged” books in the US in the 1990s (it had dropped in the 14th spot by the 2000s).

But the idea of changing the language in the novel in order to boost its popularity is still viewed with bafflement in many quarters. Dr Sarah Churchwell, senior lecturer in US literature and culture at the University of East Anglia, said the development made her “incandescent” with anger. “The fault lies with the teaching, not the book. You can’t say ‘I’ll change Dickens so it is compatible with my teaching method’. Twain’s books are not just literary documents but historical documents, and that word is totemic because it encodes all of the violence of slavery. The point of the book is that Huckleberry Finn starts out racist in a racist society, and stops being racist and leaves that society. These changes mean the book ceases to show the moral development of his character. They have no merit and are misleading to readers. The whole point of literature is to expose us to different ideas and different eras, and they won’t always be nice and benign. It’s dumbing down.”

Geff Barton, head of King Edward’s School in Bury St Edmunds, described the idea of changing Twain’s language as “slightly crackpot”. “It seems depressing that we are so squeamish that we can’t credit youngsters with seeing the context for texts. Are we going to teach a sanitised version of The Merchant of Venice? What I would want to do is to explore issues of how language changes in context and culture,” he said. Barton added that if Twain was taught less in the UK now, it was because since the national curriculum was introduced in 1989, the emphasis in English teaching was largely on works from the English literary canon rather than from America. “While we still teach To Kill a Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men, Twain might just have fallen under the radar,” he said.|

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15 Responses to Read this article and watch a video. Explain what happened and give your opinion.

  1. luli giambruni says:

    Mark Twain wrote this book with a different language. Now the people chanched some words for anothers. For example: the word “nigger” they changed it for the word “slave”.
    I think that is better changing it the words because it is a more appropiate language.

  2. Felipe says:

    I think thats a good idea chanching the word nigger for slave because that is descriminating against the slaves and the black people.

  3. Mara says:

    What happened was that in the original book the word “nigger” appears more than 200 times so they had to change the word “nigger” for “slave”. I think that is better because it is more educated for kids.

  4. Catalina Rela says:

    Happend this: In the book more than 200 times the word nigger (discrimation of a black person) and also the word injun (indio in spanish) those both words will be replaced.
    I think that is OK because in my opinion if were a “nigger” I wouldn’t like that kind of discrimination.

  5. catu says:

    in this text say a lot of time the word ‘nigger’ and i think that it ok that rewrite all the book.

  6. Luna says:

    It happened that in Huckleberry Finn they said the N word every time they needed to call Jim. Many people didn´t agree with Tawin because he was a passionate critic of American racism and now the racism is illegal in America. In the video, the driver of that TV programm, said that his favourite character was Jim. The driver didn´t agree. So me.
    I dind´t agree because im not a passionate critic of American racism and im not interested on all that. I would´t like it. O:) :)

  7. Pepo Roldan says:

    In the book were very racis because they say nigger nigger all time and that is a complitly RACISMO!I think thas it was ok that they put the word “nigger” because in that time they discriminate a lot.And its not bad because maybe child of argentina said how strange the chinese people that have rare eyes maybe the chinese people say that how strange the arngentinan people that have the eyes rare its like for people they are perfect and the other is a rare person and the other person say the same about the other person.

  8. mateo says:

    In this book said a lots of time the word “niger” and this is racism.
    For me its ok because if im a “niger” i doesnt like that.

  9. Rochi :) says:

    In the book, Huckleberry Finn the author wrote “nigger” many times. People have to replace those words if they want to describe an Afro-American. I wouldn’t like being discrminated.

  10. Flor Araya says:

    It happend that in the book it said the words “nigger” and “injun” more than 200 times but then those words couldn’t be written or said. So Twain had to write all over the book again.
    In my opinion i think it’s ok to re-write the book because those words were racism.

  11. santi says:

    In the first edition of the book appears a lot of times the word nigger and its a bad form to call the black people.I think it was a good idea to made another edition excluding the word nigger because the black people could feel bad and discrimination is not well.

  12. Toti says:

    they always say “nigger” to descriminate and they said n to call jim.In my opinion if i was twai i would do it the same

  13. lara says:

    It hapened that: Mark Twain did a book who said “nigger” to the black people more than 200 times and the the U.S.A. did a law that said that to the black people that is agresive so they have to said thhem “slaves”,so Mark Twain have to chaing all the book and now it is smoler than the ather vershion and it hapened thge same but with “ijun” (indio).

  14. Cami Barletta! says:

    What happend was the in the book,The adventures of Huckleberry Finn ,The author wrote the word ¨nigger¨ more than 150 times. The word nigger was discrimination for the black people or Afro-American.The driver of this TV program was talking about Twain’s book.
    After all they re-write the book ,and changed the word Nigger ,using the word Jim or slave.

    Cami!

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