Huck Finn & Tom Sawyer

Gee, where to begin?  I, like many others around the country, have come across this article from Publisher’s Weekly Upcoming NewSouth ‘Huck Finn’ Eliminates the ‘N’ Word.  This article indicates to me several things, but the first thought that came to my mind was that this action of changing Mark Twain’s work because we don’t agree with a certain word is nothing but political correctness run amok.

Mark Twain wrote these classics during a time when these words were used with frequency.  While I truly believe that most people feel the ‘N’ word is truly disgusting, I simply don’t think we should be removing it from these literary classics.  Do I think these books should be banned because of it, absolutely not.  Now, for the purposes of full disclosure, I will admit, I have not read either of these books in high school, and I wasn’t fully aware then to ask those types of questions.  But I don’t think we should be erasing the fact that these words were used at one point in time.  I think it’s very important for our children and grandchildren to know, and be fully aware of our racial difficulties that we had to deal with and are still dealing with today.

With that being said, those who aren’t familiar with history are doomed to repeat it.  Erasing words isn’t going to change anything, and it wouldn’t really surprise me if schools still didn’t ban the books as a result.  I would like to think that we have evolved enough as a society to put this PC nonsense behind us, but with these new publications, I think we still have a long way to go.  We still haven’t formed a thick enough skin that we have to censor books just to make them more appealing.

I have a word of advice for people who find these two pieces of classic American literature disgusting because of these words, just simply don’t read them.  No one is forcing you to pick them up.  If you don’t want your children to read them in school, that’s ok too, ask the teacher for another assignment.  But if you choose not to read them, then you will prove Mark Twain correct when he said the following:  “Classic’ – a book which people praise and don’t read.”

As I said above, I haven’t read either of these two books, but because of this new attention toward them, I do plan on reading them, the original text as Twain wrote it.  Maybe in the process I’ll learn a bit more about myself, and late 19th century American culture, and I challenge everyone else to read them as is.  Not only will you be resisting the ever persisting sense of political correctness that’s been transforming our country, but we’ll be armed with additional knowledge about how important it is to confront our racial differences, and learn from them, in the context of literature, the best way to learn about historical culture.


About Jeremy

Husband, book lover, Civil War Buff. If I could read for a living I would, but unfortunately, it doesn't pay the bills!

2 Responses to “Huck Finn & Tom Sawyer”

  1. Being politically correct as they call these days, it does not surprise me that people want to remove the ‘N’ word from Twain’s works of art. Myself, I have read Huck Finn and I have to say the book is a great read. I have plans to read more of Twain’s work, and would be dissapointed if his words are changed. Being a writer myself, I know that I take great offense to someone wanting to change the way that I wrote something. Changing the words of an author is a great disrespect to the person that wrote the piece of work. No to mention that if the words are changed, it changes the whole meaning of the text that was written and the read is robbed of what the author ment by the text orginally. So, lets just hope that Twain’s work is not changed. Oh, one other thing, if the books are put on the ban list and the text not changed; in my oponion Twain’s works will just become that more popular and more people will want to read his works.


  1. 10 Essential Classics – Have You Or Would You Read Them? « Beltwayliterature - February 10, 2011

    […] Finn, this book was in the news not too long ago, and I wrote a post about it, which you can read here.  Obviously there is quite a bit of controversy with this particular book, and I’m […]

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