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The new word on 'Huck Finn'

Posted by Steve Greenlee  January 4, 2011 01:57 PM

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huck.jpg"Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" has been controversial almost since its publication in 1885, when the Boston Transcript reported that a Concord library official had derided Mark Twain's novel as "trash." Over the years the book has been banned from various public and school libraries, and occasionally it ignites another controversy, usually over its portrayal of African-Americans and its repeated use of a certain racial slur. (According to Publishers Weekly, that word appears in the book 219 times.)

Now comes a new edition from Alan Gribben, a Twain scholar at Auburn University in Alabama, that eliminates the offending word, replacing it with the word "slave." Due next month from NewSouth Books, the revised novel is sure to generate just as much debate, presumably over whether it is appropriate to sanitize a classic work of literature.

"This is not an effort to render Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn colorblind," Gribben told Publishers Weekly. "Race matters in these books. It's a matter of how you express that in the 21st century. ... I'm hoping that people will welcome this new option, but I suspect that textual purists will be horrified. Already, one professor told me that he is very disappointed that I was involved in this."

What's your opinion? Is the new edition a good idea?

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