Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sivilizing Huck

It's been more than a century since Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been written and people still want to sivilize Huck. A new version of the book will be published featuring the word "slave" instead of nigger. As the book was written in the nineteenth century, the n-word was commonplace and was not as offensive as it is today. Reading that book, one of the things I remarked was that the words "slave" or "slavery" are hardly ever mentioned. That is because African Americans were not slaves, they were simply "niggers." This book can teach us a lot about society at the time and how Huck battles with what he has been taught his whole life and comes to the conclusion that if helping Jim escape is a sin, then "I'll GO to hell."

The new book would take away this part of history and reduce the intensity of Huck's realization. However, I have no opposition to the publishing of the book as long as it's not touted as a complete replacement for the original manuscript. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn without the n-word would be good for children who are not mature enough to handle it. But, I stress that in no way the new edition should replace the old one. It is a complements the original. To properly learn this novel, one must read it with the the word "nigger."
A new edition of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer will replace the n-word with "slave" in an effort to boost acceptance of the books.
 Mark Twain's classics are frequently challenged because of the use of the racial slur and appeared as recently as 2007 on the American Library Association's list of most banned books.
Read more at CBC.

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  1. I am not sure that one can "properly learn" a novel as you say. Such a statement implies that there is a definitive way of interpreting the text. Having said that, we should remember that many works of fiction are changed (edited) to be used in a different form - such as a classic work being turned into a children's version. And in the late 18th and early 19th centuries a number of well known actors like John Kemble and David Garrick blatantly changed Shakespeare to suit their tastes. The most important thing is that adaptions are clearly labeled and used for clear and limited reasons. One has to be very careful not to lose the historical documents as they originally appeared.

  2. These type of changes are common place. Language evolves and literature needs to evolve with it. It doesn't mean that the original is less valuable, but it also doesn't mean an updated version can only be a compliment. I think people would be surprised how there are slight word changes in different editions of a novel. It is a perfectly acceptable practice in the literary world as long as done properly. This one seems quite fine.

  3. Sivilize? Sivilize? Really? Your spell checker didn't catch that glaring typo? Try civilize.

  4. The spelling mistake stays. Anyone who has read "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" would have understood the misspelling of the word "civilize."


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