Rewriting Huck Finn without the word Nigger?

Mark Twain wrote Huckleberry Finn and he used the word nigger 200 times. New South publishers have released a new sanitized version of the book and they have substituted the word ‘slave’ for ‘nigger’. They contend that educators have shied away from using the classic because of the use of nigger. Twain wrote this book and used the language of his time. Is it appropriate to change the words because it offends people or should the original have been left alone? Normally we don’t even see the word any  more it is refered to as the n-word in an effort not to offend, but everyone knows what the n-word means. Is this simply political correctness on steroids? Tell me what you think.

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Comments

  • John Barron Jr.  On January 5, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    I think for the most part, many people are offended because they are told they should be offended. Historically, it was used as a term of degridation, but as you said, it was just the word of the times. In turn as time passes, the term changes. nigger-negro-colored-black-african american with the last to re-circulating as the current use.

    It makes you wonder whether the term black or african american will some day be edited for fear of offense.

    From a literary stand point, books ought not be edited for reasons like this. Whether it was/is offensive, it is a piece of American classic literature and holds a certain place in history. It should be left alone and read in schools, with the proper historical understanding of the usage of the term of the period it was written.

  • John  On January 5, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    If you take it out it would change the effect of showing what the degradation Blacks faced. Why teach it when kids could study Black classics like “BLack Boy or “Native Son” by Richard Wright. Even Raisin in the SUn”. There are plenty of good books showing interesting Black characters.

  • musesofamom  On January 5, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    You know I have no problem with the word used in this context. Twain was spaeking the language of his time. Now I do have a problem when I hear the word used in songs or when I hear black people casually use the word talking to their friends. In 2010 the word is and should be offensive no matter who uses it, but when Twain wrote Huck Finn that was how they talked and no one has a right to edit a book in this fashion written by someone who has not approved of their edits, and since Twain is dead we can conclude he was not consulted.

  • elogam  On January 5, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    I read the book in 7th grade. “Nigger” wasn’t in my version. I think they just deleted it or used another noun in it’s place. It wasn’t until I got ahold of a copy from a library other than my school’s copy that I saw the original text.

    The problem I see with leaving it in is that it is confusing for some. Imagine a young white kid who listens to gangsta rap, hears his black peers use the word, then reads the original version of “Huck Finn” and “Tom Sawyer”. It is reasonable for that kid to decide it’s perfectly fine for HIM to use that word. Now we’ve got problems. The goal is for EVERYONE to relegate that word to the dustbin of history, along with words like “forsooth”, “anon” and “balanced federal budget”. (OK, I’m kidding about that last one….)

  • shannon gasaway  On January 6, 2011 at 1:38 am

    So I guess this means ANY book with ANY deragatory term toward ANY race or religon should be re-written. That also goes for any song, especially the rappers that use the “N” word in their songs. Oh and by the way, they are mostly African American rappers…. unfreakinbelievable….

  • musesofamom  On January 6, 2011 at 2:50 am

    Shannon I fail to understand your indignation most of the posters including me agree this is over the top and if you read the comment and the post I wrote I too think the rappers should stop using the word. No one is getting a pass to use it as far as I am concerned.

  • shannon gasaway  On January 6, 2011 at 3:30 am

    I read the other posts. Didn’t mean for my comment to sound “indignant”. This type of thing is just getting way out of hand and it infuriates me.

  • John  On January 6, 2011 at 5:22 am

    Read more books by famous Black authors,why do they always have to be dead white guys when minorities are a large part of the US population ???

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