Huckleberry Finn gets self-censored, loses "n word"
A new version of Huckleberry Finn is being published -- one that omits the "n word." The NewSouth book, with an introduction by Twain scholar and Auburn University professor Alan Gribben, is designed to remove the offensive word that has kept the book out of some classrooms around the nation. It is replaced by the award "slave." (The new edition also replaces "injun.")
I'm not big on censorship, but this word is so weighted that it gets in the way of a true discussion of the merits. Any teacher who assigns the new version should be required to explain the self-censorship. That way, at least, the tough prose won't be completely white-washed.
"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." He and NewSouth believe the new edition, which includes "Tom Sawyer," will open up new audiences, especially grade school classrooms that had been put off by the politically incorrect word. "For a single word to form a barrier, it seems such an unnecessary state of affairs," he told PW.