The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a Mark Twain classic, is being “sanitized” by publishing company NewSouth Books.
Editors of NewSouth Books, led by Alan Gribben, have decided to replace the “n” word with the word “slave”, and “injun” with the word “Indian.”
Gribben decided to do this because he thinks this book is an important piece of literature that all should be allowed to read.
With the changed language, he hopes the school bans will be lifted, allowing younger generations more access to it.
This new edited version of the book has been criticized and approved of by teachers, librarians, book lovers, and parents.
The main reason most don’t think the book should be edited is because it’s just sugar coating the history of American racism.
The ones who approve of it, like William Barr, an adjunct English professor at Monroe County Community College, do so because they don’t think kids should read the non-edited version until they are older and can understand the use of the language.
“Introducing a new version to them without the n-word is great because then they get to be introduced to Huckleberry Finn and then go back and compare it when they get to college,” Barr said.
Barr also says that the original book shouldn’t be taught through 12th grade because if it is taught then, the meaning of the word and how it was used should be taught as well, and that would take too much time for just one book.
“As a teacher it’s too much work… what do you use a whole semester to teach the book and the word, the use of the word, and the social connotations of the word today versus then,” Barr said.
So what would Mark Twain think about the change?
He died over 100 years ago, so we will never know what he thinks, but something he once said might give an idea of how he would feel.
“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is a really large matter — it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”