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    NewSouth books published edited Huckleberry Finn, changes text

    NewSouth books published edited Huckleberry Finn, changes text

    By Rachel Youmans

    Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, a coming of age story about a white boy helping a man escape slavery, has been used in schools to teach about prejudice and racism since it was first published in America in 1885.

    Throughout the book characters, even Huckleberry Finn, casually throw the n-word around without thought. Although this was meant to display the disrespect for black Americans before and after the Civil War, some people find the book itself offensive; Huckleberry Finn is the 4th most challenged book in public schools.

    NewSouth Books, an independent publishing company, is now creating an edition of Huckleberry Finn in which every instance of the n-word is changed to the word “slave,” and the word “injun” is also changed to a less offensive term. One of the main reasons is to make the classic more readable for students today.

    “It [the n-word] did kind of take away from the book,” junior Hollé Draughn said. “It was one of the reasons why I didn’t like it.”

    Many people dislike the idea of changing Huckleberry Finn, because of its longstanding status as a literary classic.

    “You don’t modify the works of the great,” junior Dalton Gibbs said. “It’s just not done. Twain is a wonderful author and his works should stand as they are.”

    “I can understand why people would be offended,” junior Jorday Taswell said. “But I don’t think it should be changed. Huckleberry Finn is a classic book.”

    Dr. Alan Gribben, the man behind the change, claims that the new edition is meant to avoid “preemptive censorship,” wherein schools remove the book from the curriculum to prevent problems.

    “The book should stay in schools, because it teaches about that time period,” junior Kelly Soloe said. “If it needs to it should be censored.”

    Some students, however, would rather the book be banned than changed.

    “The author’s writing shouldn’t be changed,” Draughn said. “If it came down to it, I’d prefer that the book were banned.”

    “[Taking out offensive language] takes away from the reality of the situation, and makes less of an impact on people,” Gibbs said. “I think they should keep the book as it is, no matter what.”

    However, some believe the use of offensive language in Huck Finn shouldn’t be an issue, and dislike the idea of changing the book status at all.

    “I think it’s really ironic to ban Huckleberry Finn from schools because of that word,” English teacher Crystal Lipscombe said. “Originally the book was banned because Twain was making a brazen statement about racism, and how blacks and whites were equal.”

    Opponents of the new edition say that removing offensive language from Huckleberry Finn is an attempt to run away from history by pretending it never happened.

    “Much of our history is based on that word, and many people have marched and fought because of it. To try and erase it does not pay homage to those people,” Lipscombe said.

    “If you do eliminate the word, where does it end? You can’t erase the past. It happened, and much of it was hurtful, but we must acknowledge it,” Lipscombe said.

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    • H

      haley mathenyMar 11, 2011 at 8:13 pm

      I think censoring the book takes away from it more than banning it would. I am completely against banning literature but altering it is an absolute insult to the author

    • R

      Rachel WaymackMar 10, 2011 at 7:41 pm

      The censoring of the word is foolish, including the word is not propagating racism and for children who parents feel are too young to read the word should just wait to read the book. By censoring the word it like trying to erase a part of history. While it may be an unpleasant part of history, it is history and should not be forgotten.

    • J

      Jessica TaylorMar 10, 2011 at 7:23 pm

      I do not think this book should be changed or edited. It is a classic and if you change it now after so long then you are taking away from Mark Twain’s work. There is a simple solution for everyone who has a problem with the language, do not read it. There are worse things said at school in the halls. The language used in the book is used for a reason.

    • C

      Carrie YoungMar 10, 2011 at 7:20 pm

      Changing the word throughout the book would be pointless. That word was a part of our history, we can’t change history. Everyone knows that it is not appreciated in society today, so if a student read it, they would know not to say it just because they read it in English class.

    • M

      madison guidryMar 4, 2011 at 8:13 pm

      This is ridiculous that someone is trying to change the words. It is a classical novel and most books are optional for students. The criteria is no worse than anything I hear in the halls on a daily basis. Its a part of society And people need to accept It.

    • L

      Laken AdamsMar 4, 2011 at 8:02 pm

      I think it is ridiculous that the classic american novel is being changed. The book teaches about the hardships of slavery and racism. History should not be altered due to the fact that a few may find it offensive. The time period that this book was written in allowed this type of language to be okay. Changing this would dull our intelligence about this time period. If the n-word is being banned in a classic american novel then it should also be banned in rap songs where the word is said repetitively and not claimed to be offensive.

    • A

      Alex MartinezMar 4, 2011 at 6:11 pm

      While I think that it is very stupid that the word is an issue at all, I think that it is possible that the author of the revised edition of the book might feel the same way too, because the purpose of his revision is to prevent it from being banned my more schools so that those students can read the book and learn the truth about its stance against slavery and racism. In some places, the book has been banned because of just one person complaining, which is absolutely outrageous.

    • R

      Raya GirardMar 3, 2011 at 2:37 pm

      I think that it is ironic that people who do not want us to be exposed to bad words make such a big deal about it that people rush to read a banned book. Perhaps it would be best to write a warning on books with bad words in them that said,”Do not read this book until you are mature enough not to repeat bad words.”

    • H

      Haseena Abdur-RahmanFeb 27, 2011 at 4:12 pm

      Twain was not attempting to perpetuate the racial views held by former slave-owners. On the contrary, through the events which take place in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain exposes the ignorance and paradoxical views held by many “wholesome” and religious families in 1830s America. Simply stated, I think those who condemn the novel as racist propaganda are missing the point completely; Huck has lived his whole life learning that Blacks are unequal and should not be considered human, but only through his escapades with Jim does he find himself battling what he has been brought up to believe is right, and what he himself believes is morally correct.

    • O

      Olivia TritschlerFeb 14, 2011 at 8:50 am

      I completely agree with Ms Lipscombe. Our history is shown through literary works and if someone goes and erases the words then it is kind of like we are trying to erase the history. We need to learn from our past to create a better future and if we cover up the worse parts of history then how will we learn? When reading the book we are given a little insight into how people of the time period treated African Americans, but that doesn’t mean that is what we do now, because we don’t treat them that way.