Huckleberry Finn to be reissued with offensive words removed...



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  1. #1
    Puck
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    Default Huckleberry Finn to be reissued with offensive words removed...

    NPR's link to this story

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/...ffensive-words

    I always thought that Huckleberry Finn was Twain's social commentary of that period, removing the use of the 'N' word removes the social issues/lessions the book teaches us.

    Frankly, as a writer myself the thought of having to remove a word because it might offend is pure madness, after all were would it end? All books would be neutral gray masses of no conflict, no thought provoking lines and chance to tell a truth through words. This sort of self-censorship was wrong, and I would like to think that Mark Twain would have something witty to say about it too... Such as 'Don't let schooling get in the way of your education."

    What are you thoughts on this?
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  3. #2
    STH
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    Oliver
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    Default Re: Huckleberry Finn to be reissued with offensive words removed...

    I am against censorship in just about any from I can think of. Bureaucratizing art is as dangerous as it is absurd. So, in my opinion, the idea of removing the "n" word from Huck Finn and changing it to something else is a foolish one. It's also misguided. Because, presumably it is being done out of respect, but altering the context and santizing the history is disrespectful to everybody.

    That said, there is a practical matter in play here too.

    I used to teach high school English, and personally, I don't think Huck Finn should be taught in high school at all. I definitely think it should be taught in college however, probably in English 101, so every freshman gets exposed to it.

    Why not high school? At this moment in history, that language is just too much, too strong. Expecting kids that age to understand "context" with something that explosive is asking too much of them. I never taught Huck Finn, but I have to say, I think it would be a disaster in a high school classroom. For one thing, you do a lot of reading out loud in a high school class room. Who's going to read Huck's dialogue? Me? Do I ask Sally to read it out loud to her classmates? It's asking an awful lot for kids that age to deal with. I'm not saying they wouldn't understand the context when it's explained... but live? in the moment? You might as well read "Lolita" in high school and see how much of the artist nature of that piece gets appreciated.

    I used to teach a class that had only one African American kid in it. I wouldn't want to be the teacher trying to explain "context" while forcing that kid to deal with all the crap he'd have to take from his classmates everyday while we did that book. It would be so unfair to him. And you can switch the scenario around any number of ways and see how badly it would go over with the kids.

    Huck Finn is a great book. Twain is a national treasure for the United States. But everything isn't for kids. Censorship is a poor solution to anything. Especially when common sense works so much better. Save Huck Finn for college, where students are signing up to learn of their own free will.

    Just my two cents worth.

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  4. #3
    Mowgli
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    Default Re: Huckleberry Finn to be reissued with offensive words removed...

    Then they should omit the names of the editors that did it because that is incredibly offensive to me.

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  6. #4
    Thing 2
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    Default Re: Huckleberry Finn to be reissued with offensive words removed...

    being that i recently *4yrs ago now* got out of highschool and was in a predominatly black school that DID participate
    in the story telling of huck fin... it was an amazing experience for my whole class!
    really because it was no lie that we didn't "co-mingle" because i was in a....well basketball players class
    was the one with the best grades alwys and such. we did listen to it via audio though, made it a bit
    easier to "deal" with the words. prior to however my teacher stood up in front of the class and said:

    "this book is called huckleberry finn, it is going to have some language that some of you may be easily offended by"

    *insert raised hand of a basketball player*
    "what kind of language miss williams"

    "well Brian, they say the N word a lot. I am giving the chance for you to excuse yourselves to the gym with XXX teacher for the time that we read this book"

    no one left....



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  7. #5
    d'Artagnan
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    Default Re: Huckleberry Finn to be reissued with offensive words removed...

    I hate that they would do this! Huck Finn is a great picture of life at that time. To change the language is terribly offensive, in my opinion. I think it's important to understand the mentality and mind set at the time. It's just a word, and there are hundreds of books published annually that have more offensive words in them than that.

  8. #6
    Tom Sawyer
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    Default Re: Huckleberry Finn to be reissued with offensive words removed...

    That word has always been offensive, and it's not something that even back then you said in polite company. It's been 20 years since I read Huck Finn, but if I remember correctly Twain wrote some commentary that is easily overlooked, and you don't get it on an audiobook. He said yes he knew it was offensive and racist, but he wanted the attitude at the time to be captured and learned from.

  9. #7
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    Default Re: Huckleberry Finn to be reissued with offensive words removed...

    Quote Originally Posted by turtlenook
    That word has always been offensive, and it's not something that even back then you said in polite company. It's been 20 years since I read Huck Finn, but if I remember correctly Twain wrote some commentary that is easily overlooked, and you don't get it on an audiobook. He said yes he knew it was offensive and racist, but he wanted the attitude at the time to be captured and learned from.
    and these people are just gonna.....poop.....on that.



    [quote author=Klaatu link=topic=6826.msg72577#msg72577 date=1296793819]
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  10. #8
    Puck
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    Default Re: Huckleberry Finn to be reissued with offensive words removed...

    this disturbs me deeply, and it isnt okay. i am fine with literature of this type being taught in high school. it gives kids a chance to discover, dialogue, and get a feel for how things used to be and maybe see first hand why words are hurtful. this is part of the history of this country (and also, sadly, still part of some popular culture) that needs to be preserved. trying to "clean" it up is a huge disservice to the author and to all who could learn from such works. i remember that when i was in first grade Roots came on TV. even then my classmates and I acted out the story at recess. oddly enough we knew it was wrong to treat the kids who played the "slaves" the way we saw (and reproduced in our first grade way) them treated on TV.
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  11. #9
    Tom Sawyer kwright99's Avatar
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    Default Re: Huckleberry Finn to be reissued with offensive words removed...

    Are they going to have non censored book available?

    If not, I want to get it for my Nook before that happens.

  12. #10
    Mr. Darcy
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    Default Re: Huckleberry Finn to be reissued with offensive words removed...

    Quote Originally Posted by STH
    I used to teach high school English, and personally, I don't think Huck Finn should be taught in high school at all. I definitely think it should be taught in college however, probably in English 101, so every freshman gets exposed to it.
    Good point. I much prefer this instead of bowdlerizing the original. Even though those wanting to censor the "bad" parts and words seem to have good intentions, we all know what road is paved with good intentions. Telling lies about the past and keeping secrets to make everything look "perfect" on the outside is what happens in abusive families and oppressive regimes.
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