Thursday, January 6, 2011

Children's Classic Huck Finn Gets Rid of "N"-Word

"It certainly is controversial and it has been for many years," said Barbara Pickell, the Director of the Clearwater Public Library.

Published in 1885, Mark Twain's, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is known as the America's greatest novel.

However, says Pickell, over the years, many educators have opted out of teaching the childrens' classic because of the offensive language. Specifically, the "N"-word used 219 times.

So, Mark Twain scholar, Alan Gribbons, an Auburn University Professor, decided to make a change to the classic novel through publishing company NewSouth. In February, a version of the classic will replace the "N"-word with the word, "slave."

"It enables us to set this inflammatory racial epithet aside and begin to address the greatness of Twain's works," Gribbons told CBS News.

Pickell calls the move censorship. "It does take us away from the true literary work and what the author really meant to say in the words that really represented the time and place that he was covering," said Pickell.

Mother Dayna Saltarelli said, "I'm on the fence about it because that's the way it was... We're at a different time than the original but I still want him to know the history."

Another mom Decynthia Clements said, "I think that's a great idea." She sees both sides too but one outweighs the other. "It is complicated but it is a benefit. So, anything that is a plus I would go for."

Since the director of the Clearwater Library is against censorship, Pickell will offer the new version of this old classic. In fact, she has already ordered her copies.

"We're going to have it because that's what libraries do. We have material on all sides of controversial issues so we give people choices," said Pickell.

Both moms are happy to hear that and choose to read the revised edition with their sons.

Keep in mind, NewSouth is not the only publisher. There are many different companies that publish the classic novel. That means the original version will continue to be published as is.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in New York City in 1961, from 1975 to 1985 columnist and author Erik Rush was a club, stage and studio musician. He's also been involved in biomedical research, sales, marketing and media production.

Rush was the first to break the story of President (then Senator) Barack Obama's ties to militant Chicago preacher Rev. Jeremiah Wright on a national level in February of 2007.

He writes columns of sociopolitical fare for WorldNetDaily as well as dozens of nationally-distributed print and online news sources. He's appeared on Fox News, CNN, and is a veteran of a copious number of radio appearances and speaking engagements.

ABOUT THE BOOK: In 2008, Americans elected Barack Hussein Obama as the 44th president of the United States. Being a black man, of course this was heralded as a monumentally historic event-the first black president in a country that was segregated a scant 50 years ago. A historic event, yes, whether or not one subscribes to theories of underhanded race politics, the evils of affirmative action and the cult of victimization in which many hold that black people still live.

Yet, many were distressed by Obama's election. Little was known about the man and his likely policies despite two published memoirs; his political history- and close circle of influence-evidenced the most far left liberal tendencies. Nevertheless, he campaigned as a centrist. But his appeal also appeared clearly-in black and white.

Negrophilia studies the undue and inordinate affinity for blacks (as opposed to antipathy toward them), that has been promoted by activists, politicians and the establishment press for the past 40 years and which has fostered an erroneous perception of blacks, particularly in America. The book dissects the dynamic of race relations and race politics with an emphasis on same since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, how these are likely to develop given a Barack Obama presidency, and how conscientious Americans may discern the deeper truths of these matters and thus develop healthier perceptions.

Reprinted with permission

Changes to Classic Novel are Misguided, UWG Scholars Say

Sanitizing the American classic, “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” is a disservice to the novel and does nothing to further the discussion of racism, say University of West Georgia scholars.

An edition of Mark Twain’s 19th century novel is set for release by NewSouth Books with the ‘‘n’’ word removed and replaced by the word “slave.” “Injun” is also excised.

“I don’t think there is any way we can deal with the history of racism and the continuing racism in this country without dealing with the ugly language that racism spawns,” said Debra MacComb, an associate professor of English at UWG.

“Huck Finn” is one of the most frequently banned books. The literary surgery comes at the urging of Auburn University professor Alan Gribben, who has said that by removing the racially offensive language he hopes more people will read the book.

MacComb, who teaches a course on Mark Twain and also teaches the novel in her American Literature courses, disagrees.

“My students appreciate talking about the issue,” she said.

David W. Newton, chairman of UWG’s Department of English and Philosophy, concurred.

Although the conversation about racism and racist words is never easy to have, it is often educational, Newton said.

In studying “Huck Finn,” students and teachers “confront offensive words directly, and talk about our responses to them,” Newton said.

MacComb noted that Twain wanted to highlight “the failure of Reconstruction to allow these new black citizens to be part of the culture. They were increasingly disenfranchised. Slavery was over in name only. Slavery was not over.”

“Dr. Gribben suggests that it would be taught more often if not for the use of the racially offensive language. But I think we need to confront it,” she said.

Removing the slur “fails to deal with what Twain was interested in revealing. People believe that Twain was racist. Twain was anything but that. It’s his character Huck who grows up in a bath of racism. This language springs from his lips because he lives in that environment,” MacComb said. “Twain encourages us to see Huck’s racism and how he changes over the course of the book.”

MacComb noted that book was first banned in Boston soon after it was published in the U.S. not for racist language, but for its use of regional dialects.

Newton said that other American classics have also been edited.

A young adult edition of James Fenimore Cooper’s “The Last of the Mohicans” leaves out a large portion of the original novel, essentially rendering it a different book.

Doing so for younger readers may be appropriate, Newton said, but not for a college classroom.

“Literature is very often offensive and disturbing,” Newton said. “Sometimes it is purposely so. In other instances, like with ‘Huck Finn,’ it reminds us of historical realities from our own past.”