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What's in a Word? Censoring Huckleberry Finn

NewSouth Books has decided to move ahead with their new version of Mark Twain’s classic book, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, despite widespread criticism of the edition, which replaces Mark Twain’s use of the n-word with the word “slave” on 219 occasions. If you’d like to stick with the uncensored version, UC Press’s authoritative edition of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn leaves all uses of the word intact, just as Mark Twain intended.

The New York Times’ Room for Debate hosted a discussion on the possible justifications for altering Mark Twain’s words, while Stephen Colbert skewered the new edition in typically subversive fashion, asking, “Who knows what other words it contains that are O.K. now that someday might be offensive?” Watch the clip from The Colbert Report below.

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Huckleberry Finn Censorship
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What do you think? Are there merits to NewSouth’s decision to modify a painful racial epithet? Or is it always wrong to censor an author’s original language? In any case, the controversy hasn’t been all bad for NewSouth. They’ve upped their initial print run from 7,500 to 10,000.

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1 comment to What’s in a Word? Censoring Huckleberry Finn

  • Mark Twain would turn in his grave if he saw all this controversy. And the only result will be the increased popularity of the n-word which will cause a lot of trouble to teachers during the classes. And they should now that erasing this period of our history even though it involved a lot of mistakes they will at the same time erase the remainder of these mistakes so they can be easily repeated in the future.

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