That’s PC as in politically correct. A publisher takes it on themselves to rewrite Twain’s words.

OK, folks… this is just going a bit too far. What’ll it be next? Rewriting the Greek Classics? Maybe censoring out the violent parts of Beowulf? C’mon! These books and stories were written in their own times with accepted language from those times. Just because the world has moved on a bit since then doesn’t mean that we modern day folks should be modifying the original output of authors who came before us.

Look, I’m not in any way prejudiced with regards to race, creed, etc., and I understand the sensitivities that some folks might feel about certain words or references; but the facts are that history is history. What happened happened, folks. Changing a few words or hiding things won’t change our history. Replacing the “N-word” with a substitute is not a positive way to deal with the history of that word.

Wouldn’t it be better for all folks to have an understanding of what the times were like in the days that Twain was writing about Huck and his pals? Wouldn’t it be more educational and positive to understand that times were different back then and we, as a society, have worked very hard to amend our bad behaviors since that time?

Evidently, NewSouth Books, an Alabama publisher, doesn’t believe so. They feel that it would be better to use other, less offensive, words as replacements in Twain’s classic story. They must feel that this is a positive way to correct wrongs from a society 100+ years gone. I happen to disagree. I don’t think original works should ever be edited, amended, changed in any way by later generations. The author’s work is the author’s work. It should be read as it was meant to be at the time it was written.

Read more about NewSouth Book’s plans to rewrite Twain’s classic The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in this LA Times blog article.



About V. T. Eric Layton

vtel57, Nocturnal Slacker

10 responses »

  1. They really need to stop doing this! I get so sick and tired of it!

  2. I agree with you Eric, this is pure crap. The book should be published the way it was written and not edited for “PC”. Whats next? Rewriting history because its too violent? Come on!! Plus they should never be allowed to rewrite books because the original might disappear for good.

  3. ChipDoc says:

    It’s not as if this is a NEW thing, you know. I remember Father Kelly reading aloud from Romeo and Juliet by Bill the Bard. There was all SORTS of stuff in his copy that wasn’t in the students’ copies…

    I think this is actually a good thing. It’ll draw attention to the differences and probably reopen the subject back into the general consciousness.

    • Don’t agree with me? Hmm? You commie!

      No. Seriously… I see what you’re saying Chipper. It will stimulate more debate and discussion on this, but I don’t see the mangling of Literature as constructive. There are better ways for students (and anyone, for that matter) to be enlightened regarding the way things were back then. We need to stop candy-coating history. There was some UGLY shit going on back then. Let’s face up to it and move on; not cover it up and forget.

      • Kips says:

        Actually I believe leaving the original words in would open up far more discussion if it was done properly in a supervised session of class. If when little Susie or Johnny read that story aloud and they get to those words the teacher, being the enlightened person they may be will stop at that point and explain to the class that in these times those words are hurtful, but to keep an open mind and realize as you said Eric, the story was written for the times they took place.

        Only time I can agree on any form of censorship is when it is to censure hate literature, or literature whose only purpose is to incite, the classics…nope leave your mitts off of them…

        • That was my point also… that having the original words in the story would be a good learning tool for teachers and others. Words change over time. Language is a living thing. There are many words that have totally changed meanings just in my lifetime. Queer used to mean odd or strange. It evolved into the word to describe a homosexual man. Later on, gay became the preferred word for that. Gay used to mean happy. Those are just a couple examples. The word nigger has some interesting etymology also –>

          Even racial designations have changed numerous times in my lifetime. When I was very young, African-Americans were known as negroes; later that changed to blacks, then to the current African-American. I grew up in and around many people who were quite bigoted and racial in their feeling about other races/peoples. I think having been raised in that environment is partly the reason that I’ve grown up to be very non-racial/non-prejudiced. My only dislike is for assholes… and they come in all colors, shapes, and sizes.

  4. “Huckleberry Finn” is one of my favourite novels, and it seems to me a profoundly anti-racist novel. What seems to me central to the novel is the idea that otherwise decent people may be morally corrupted if they live in a society which accepts immorality (in this case, slavery, and racism in general). Huck accepts slavery as morally correct: true, he ends up doing what is morally right (i.e. helping Jim escape), but he believes all the while that what he is doing is morally wrong. There is a terrible irony in all this: indeed, irony is one of the key features in the novel. But the very nature of irony lies in meaning something different from what is said – i.e. we need, as readers, to look beyond what is said to grasp at the meaning. And for schoolchildren coming fresh to the complexities of literature, this is not always easy.

    (Twain expressed his view of slavery more explicitly in his later and much underrated masterpiece, “Pudd’nhead Wilson”.)

    As for this recent edition, I’d be very surprised if it were to edge Twain’s original from the bookshops. It’s just a bit of a fad, I think – nothing much to worry about.

    • With such a small print run of this new edition, I’m sure you’re correct about it being just a passing fad. Nazism started out as a passing fad, too. Censorship, book banning, and rewriting of history has become rampant thanks to the U.S.’s religious right. It’s a sad state of affairs, I think.

      Thanks for stopping by, H. 🙂

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