Thursday, January 06, 2011

Where the Twain shall delete

The literary world has been abuzz with news that a publisher plans to censor Mark Twain's classic Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn books, replacing the N-word with the non-synonym "slave" to avoid offending readers. Many school districts have shied away from the books because of the language, and NewSouth Books hopes the change will help it sell more copies.

Let's just make that a lollipop in Huck's mouth. 
As any good ayatollah would tell you, censorship is the next best thing to a book-burning, so I am whole-heartedly on board with this endeavor. But I believe the planned changes do not go far enough. So I submit these additional alterations for the publisher's consideration.

  1. Surely any reasonable person would agree that no word, no matter how vile, could be as offensive as the institution of slavery itself. So the decision to call Jim a slave is problematic. It would be best to simply turn his character into a cheerful neighbor. 
  2. No student should be exposed to the evils of Huck's alcoholic father; after all, teenagers are too young to drink. So Pap Finn should instead simply have an affinity for apple juice. God willing, the publisher could even seek a corporate tie-in with Motts to fill its coffers. 
  3. It could be said that Twain's original language reflected the times he lived in and contributed to an authentic portrayal of the era. But today's teens should not be burdened with uncomfortable history. Instead, we should update the story to make it more relatable. Instead of going to Tom's house, Huck could send him a text message. "OMG, did u c wat becky wuz wearin 2nite?!"


Jan said...

You make excellent points, A-word M-word. And while they're at it, there are a lot of other classics that need to be cleaned up and updated. Shakespeare, for example...

ObeyThePurebreed said...

...and they could straighten those leaning trees out in the illustration while they are at it. Trees that aren't straight!? What is trying to imply? I don't want my kid reading about queer trees. Once Sarah Palin is elected, she'll straighten everything out ya'll.

Nancy said...

Wow, turning Jim into a cheerful neighbor is almost as believable as turning him into a small black pug named Wendell who rides down the Mississippi River with Huck on a lark.

k9 said...

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