Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Twain Turns in his Grave

Or perhaps he laughs. Actually, I'm quite sure he is laughing, in that bemused yet bitter cynic kind of way.

This article is simply too ridiculous to ignore.

NewSouth Books has taken it upon themselves to fix The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by replacing all 219 instances of the word 'nigger' with the word 'slave.' Because, you know, that word is so much better.

Clearly, these people have no idea what makes Twain such a good writer. It's not that word, it's the language itself. It's the dialect that is flawless. It's the characters that are created completely, not just to the point where they don't offend anybody. It's the satire.

Think about this: who is Huck's best friend, the only person that he can stand to be around for any length of time?

Twain isn't using the word to offend, to belittle, or to promote enslavement. He was an abolitionist! If you're going to teach Huck Finn, two things should happen.
1) You ought to understand it yourself before you go "teaching" others.
2) You also should be teaching the whole book.
Explain the context, explain the dialect that Twain uses, and how that word was common as cotton. Look beyond it, and explore the relationship between Huck and Jim, and contemplate the ideas that Twain was actually presenting.

I think we've become much too PC lately, walking on eggshells, altering classics so we don't run the risk of offending someone. God forbid.
Now, I'm not saying you should go around using this word, of course you shouldn't, our language has evolved past it, I'm just saying taking it out of a great work from the past is idiotic.

Pretending the Civil War didn't happen won't change the fact that it did.
Did I mention that they're also replacing "injun" with the spelled correctly "Indian?"
I'm sure the first nations are all applauding their effort.

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