‘Huckleberry Finn’ Without N-Word: Too Far?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Some are crying censorship as a new edition of Mark Twain’s classic novels “Huckleberry Finn” and “Tom Sawyer” goes into print … with one significant change.

The release omits the n-word from the novels. It normally appears 219 times in “Huck Finn” and four times in “Tom Sawyer.”

According to CNN, the books replace the word with “slave.”

Many schools banned the book from classic reading lists because of the word. The books new publisher says he hopes the change will reverse that.

Critics say the decision makes the books untrue to the era they were written about.

“Huckleberry Finn” in particular appears near the top of many lists of the greatest American novels ever written.

WCCO-TV’s Mike Binkley Reports

Comments

One Comment

  1. Ginger says:

    I think we should ban all books. The govenment can tell us what to think, how to act, and what we can and can’t say. We don’t need to read, we need to obey.

  2. Truth says:

    Ginger, I AGREE. I’m sure Clemmons warned us about this day somewhere in his prose. The real issue facing us today is not the “N’ word or some dumb Navy Captain….the real issue is WHY DO THE WARS CONTINUE? Obams ran on the platform that he would END THE WARS……….and at this he has FAILED!!!! MISERABLY. So meanwhile the chattle’s minds are occupied with sidebar nothing stories. Wake up you IGNORANT SHEEPLE!

  3. DoubleTrue says:

    Caddy Shack removed “negro” from its uncensored version.

    1. Mike says:

      Oh boy, and Caddy Shack is a real classic. I think we need to go through all the books in America and be able to censor anything we find detestable. Anything for anyone, that way no one will be upset and we can all read Barney books together and be a happy people. Then no racism or reverse racism will occur along with any other perceived slights. Let’s return to the good old days of Germany, perhaps we can elect one person to censor certain wording in any book or newspaper. That will really create some harmony.

  4. ron says:

    I wonder if most black historians would not shudder over the idea of editing Mark Twain to sell more books.

  5. Outraged says:

    This is too depressing! Clearly this time period in America was not a shining moment in our history. However, our children need to learn true history, not some sanitized version which obliterates anything unpleasant and/or ignorant. How do we expect change and growth if there is no understanding of a true past?

    1. Paul says:

      I agree with you. It may be an unpleasant reminder of that time when it was ok to use the N word, but it is a reminder none the less. We need to remember the past as it was, not make it onto what we want it to be.

      Maybe the schools and parents should use this book as a learning opportunity to teach about some of the ignorance that has occurred in our country’s past. Maybe it would help create some understanding and empathy in our present and future.

      Also, where does the censorship end? Who makes the decisions about what is banned and censored? How many steps are we away from Nazi censorship, or North Korea Censorship?

    2. gtV says:

      Ditto! It’s time to censor the ersatz prevailing political correctness and this apparent attempt at sanitizing censorship. Our past history or literature may not have been perfect been perfect but there are real lessons to learn from each. Otherwise, real history shows a civilization or society will fall or suffer from true ignorance.

  6. Wanda says:

    So we’re going to censor a timeless book because of a word that is used mainly by the same people it refers too? Wow the world is so ending

  7. floopy says:

    The movie Blazing Saddles was part written by Richard Pryor. So are they going to take that move off the shelves? I think it has the “N” word and more racism then any other Book or movie. Why cant we decide what is ok for our children to watch or read? The prudes and snobs of this world need to go crawl into a hole. and leave us alone Would it be too much to ask that they go get a life of their own and let us make at least some of our own decisions. Maybe we should be allowed to make some decisions for them and see how they like it.

  8. Leslie says:

    If we go back and censor our classic literature we are again rewriting history. We are all students of history and the classics and changing what was is not doing anyone any favors. To change for a better future once must look at the past as it truly was – the bad and the good. The fiction of Mark Twain reflects a period of our country and should stand as it was written.

  9. JB says:

    Leslie – you are right on! We are supposed to learn from our past and past mistakes. How can we if we don’t know the past?

  10. Joey The Elf says:

    Unreal! So I guess we will now have to ban every black person who uses the “N” word! Where will we ban them too? This country is comical at times…

  11. Royce Irvin says:

    Twain was not a racist. So the edit is pointless.

  12. JamieinMN says:

    This is ridiculous. That book contains history. While they’re at it, they should remove that word from ALL music as well.

  13. Michele says:

    Censorship in it’s finest form! We have no one to blame but ourselves, we have taught each and every generation from baby boomers on to ignore the past and anything unpleasant. I’ll bet this publisher is in his 30’s. Complain all you want but until people actually stand up and fight this it’s going to continue.

  14. Middle Aged Guy says:

    Folks…this is not censorship, it is bringing past books up to date. Authors do this all the time, publishers do it all the time. We can, and must, remove items from books that are offensive. Most people will not like it, but it is a reality of today’s culture.

    1. kikidoll26 says:

      This book isn’t a school textbook that needs to be updated every now and again as the years go on, this is a piece of literature. You can’t just change parts of someone’s novel because you don’t like it or it offends you. If it offends you, then don’t read it.

  15. Big Brother is Watching says:

    I was very relieved to see such a unanimous opposition to whoevers IDIOTIC idea this is.
    I get so sick of stories like these. The censorship in this country has gone to ridiculous lengths to keep us “safe” when in reality they are doing the opposite. Changes like this do nothing but make us weaker and give the government more power.

  16. Big Brother is Watching says:

    @ Middle Aged Guy
    “We can, and must, remove items from books that are offensive. Most people will not like it, but it is a reality of today’s culture.”

    Why must we remove things that are offensive to some people? This is AMERICA. The freedom of speech is one of our constitutional rights. Why on earth would we need to edit one of American Literature’s Masterpieces because some people might get offended. Your statement, sorry to say, is the complete opposite of what our Constitution stands for.

    1. Middle Aged Guy says:

      It is not offensive to some, it is offensive to most. Most poeple want you to believe that the certain words and stereotypes are not that offensive, but in reality more poeple are offended than we are lead to believe.

    2. kikidoll26 says:

      I completely agree. Middle Aged Guy is acting like this piece of literature is some 7th grade science book that gets updated every now and then. You can’t just change someone’s novel because you don’t like it. People are so ignorant.

  17. BoyzMom says:

    Ironic that the youth of today (most ethnicities) use the “N” word so frequently, but not in a derogatory manner. Instead it seems to be used almost as a term of endearment.

  18. Big Brother is Watching says:

    Do you have research to back up your statement? How do you know most people are offended? I really have a hard time believing that most people are offended by the use of the N-word in Mark Twain. The almost unanimous response of people disagreeing with the idea in this article seems like pretty good proof that you are wrong.

    I would rather be offended by true literature, than given a watered down version of what someone else deems appropriate for me. I WILL CHOOSE

    1. Middle Aged Guy says:

      You cannot use the responses of 20 people and state that is how millions of Americans feel. I bet if you ran a scientific survey you will find that more people are actually offended than those that are not. As long as the essence of the writer is not changed, what does it matter if a the n-word is used or ‘slave’?

  19. scott says:

    So who’s the one who apparently has the right to change history to meet today’s needs? What was politically correct then, but it’s offensive now. So let’s change it. OK let’s rewrite all of history so that we don’t offend tomorrow’s population. No wars, no holocaust, no racial or political or religious issues were ever had. Let’s erase all written, drawn, painted or said anything that may offend todays or tomorrows people. If anyone would be rolling over in their grave – Mark Twain would if he could see today’s books, magazines, TV shows and movies. While we are at it, let’s also rewrite Mozart’s music. I heard if you play it backwards- you can hear “something” offensive.

  20. mark from mntaxwaste.com says:

    Does this mean rap music is going to be censored? BS!

    1. JamieinMN says:

      Rap should be BANNED. It’s not even music FFS.

  21. Julie says:

    Like the Bible?

  22. Big Brother is Watching says:

    @ Middle Aged Man: You don’t have any numbers to support your thought that most people are offended. It may be a small sample, but if 19 out of 20 random people aren’t offended, it supports my argument.
    First we remove that word from that book, then we remove it from every book containing said word. Then we start removing other words, and then we remove books and regulate speech and writing and so forth. It is far to slippery of a slope to start editing and censoring literary works or any work from its original form. It starts there, but where does it end?
    It may seem like a small little edit but the ramifications from doing such things are much greater than they seem.

  23. SICKOFTHECRAP says:

    I HAVE THE ORIGINALS OF BOTH BOOKS AND MY KIDS WILL BE READING BOTH OF THEM. I WOULD LOVE TO SEE ONE OF THESE “RULE” MAKERS TRY TO STOP ME.!!!!!!! OUT OF ALL THE PROBLEMS IN THIS WORLD THE “N”WORD IS THE LEAST OF OUR PROBLEMS!!! BUT GETS MORE ATTENTION THEN THE HUNGRY. IF THEY WANT TO “HELP” GO HELP THE CHILDREN THAT NEED A WARM BED AND A HOT MEAL. DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA AS TO HOW MANY FAMILIES COULD HAVE A HOT MEAL. WITH THE MONEY THAT WILL BE SPENT TO REPUBLISH THESE BOOKS. ? HMMMMM JUST SO DAMN PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN! WHATEVER!!!!

    AND WHERE IS THE MONEY COMING FROM TO REPUBLISH THE BOOKS???

  24. JACKIEHAHA says:

    I HAVE THE ORIGINALS OF BOTH BOOKS AND MY KIDS WILL BE READING BOTH OF THEM. I WOULD LOVE TO SEE ONE OF THESE “RULE” MAKERS TRY TO STOP ME.!!!!!!! OUT OF ALL THE PROBLEMS IN THIS WORLD THE “N”WORD IS THE LEAST OF OUR PROBLEMS!!! BUT GETS MORE ATTENTION THEN THE HUNGRY. IF THEY WANT TO “HELP” GO HELP THE CHILDREN THAT NEED A WARM BED AND A HOT MEAL. DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA AS TO HOW MANY FAMILIES COULD HAVE A HOT MEAL. WITH THE MONEY THAT WILL BE SPENT TO REPUBLISH THESE BOOKS. ? HMMMMM JUST SO DAMN PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN! WHATEVER!!!!

    AND WHERE IS THE MONEY COMING FROM TO REPUBLISH THE BOOKS???

    1. Jackie P says:

      The money is coming from you, for purchasing both copies….and all the others who actually want a copy of the ‘cleaner’ version.

      1. JACKIEHAHA says:

        NO I WILL NOT BE BUYING THE NEW BOOKS. I DONT THINK THEY SHOULD BE MADE. THEY SHOULD LEAVE HISTORY ALONE. WE CAN TEACH OUR CHILDREN BETWEEN RIGHT AND WRONG. MY CHILDREN WILL BE READING BOTH COPIES OF THE ORIGINALS. HUCK FINN AND TOM SAWYER!!!!!! @ Jackie p i dont think you got what I was saying. there is no way I would ever spend money on the new copies.

  25. Steve says:

    I have old post cards from the early 1800’s that portray blacks in a very demeaning manner. It is part of the history of the United States. Children should not be forced to read censored books. They should instead be taught that the words used in the books are not now appropriate. Whats next, Book burning clubs

    1. David R... says:

      However, to play devil’s advocate for a moment, should children be forced to read books with words that we now deem to be offensive? I do not agree with what the publisher has, but just looking at this from a different angle.

  26. JACKIEHAHA says:

    NO I WILL NOT BE BUYING THE NEW BOOKS. I DONT THINK THEY SHOULD BE MADE. THEY SHOULD LEAVE HISTORY ALONE. WE CAN TEACH OUR CHILDREN BETWEEN RIGHT AND WRONG. MY CHILDREN WILL BE READING BOTH COPIES OF THE ORIGINALS. HUCK FINN AND TOM SAWYER!!!!!!

  27. Jer says:

    I was just typing my comments and had not finished when suddenly the screen went back to home. ???
    Anyhow, the comments about whether “most” people are offended or not lead one to ask: “So will you be taking a vote from the whole United States to decide if one word is to be changed?” I can just see the results 82 million for the change and 82 million and one against! Then what, a recount? Doesn’t this get ridiculous? Just leave it alone. Maybe Mark Twain was just a poor speller.

    1. JACKIEHAHA says:

      Yea wcco’s new web page refreshes itself every 5 mins. THE DUMBEST THING THEY EVER DID!! THEY NEED TO CHANGE IT BACK!

  28. Mary says:

    There should ABSOLUTELY NOT be a change to this classic novel!!! Everyone seems to want to always be politically correct and not hurt any group of people. I say society put on their big boy/girl pants and deal with it!

  29. Kate says:

    Attempting to sugar-coat our past is not going to sweeten our future. If we don’t know how far we have come, we won’t know how much farther we are capable of going.

  30. Lee says:

    I like how somehow this conversation got talking about the government, when it is people, like you and me, who pushed for a censored version. I think we should take this moment to realize how ignorant people can be when it comes to racism and that we all need to realize that race and history can not be ignored nor can it be erased.
    Change is good, but in this case, what’s the point? It only promotes ignorance.

  31. l'eleve de 2nde says:

    The ‘N word’, even though still used today, is historical when it comes to the true meaning of the word. We can’t change our past; That is for sure. We can only try and learn from our mistakes. We all acknowledge it is an offensive word, or else there wouldn’t be this debate. So what is the point of taking it out of the book? It is very obvious that in the book the word is used to fulminate the ‘N word’. Not only that, but there are many instances where the word is used to describe a free African American, so calling him a slave would bring confusion to the book. I believe we should leave it so that future generations will stay on the same track as we are on now, and not make the mistake of turning their backs on racism.

  32. J. D. Hunter says:

    Definitions of Terms.

    Censorship > Government control of information content and transmission, including prohibition of selected items and possible prosecution of violators.

    Bowdlerized > Voluntary removal, as by an editor or publisher, of material that is considered improper or offensive from a text, especially with the result that it becomes weaker or less effective.

    NewSouth Books has bowdlerized Huckelberrt Finn, an act of literary vandalism.

    enjoy this cartoon: http://danzigercartoons.com/?p=3100

  33. efromfl says:

    Truly, this entire situation is just sad. Sad that anyone would presume to challenge such a forward-thinking individual as Mark Twain in the telling of a tale. Sad that no one has mentioned the moral of the story is somewhat diluted by changing the references to nigger Jim. Sad that we as a society now seem unwilling to have confidence that the new generation has the ability to read historical text (with all it’s language intact), learn the intended lessons from it, and put it down better for the experience. And sad most of all that such a thing could even be considered in the 21st century…..censorship of ANY kind is intolerable and a threat to our way of life. To me, the revised printing of this classic tale is utterly horrifying; what piece of literature is next on the butcher block?

  34. efromfl says:

    Already having left one comment, I feel the need for further venting. Why do those in charge of what is to be printed feel the need to remove the word “nigger” from a classic American tale when the word is so prevalent in popular music and speech(along with many other words that are far more offensive in my opinion). I would not presume to campaign for the removal of said words from texts or music of today’s pop culture – I simply choose not to listen to or buy them. Though I find them utterly devoid of any artistic value, I would not challenge their right to exist in all their offensive glory. It should be no different for Twain’s story.

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