The book world is abuzz this week with the news that Alabama publishing company NewSouth Books is planning to publish an edition of the Mark Twain classic The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, in which every instance of the word "nigger"(219 times) is replaced by the word "slave".
Behind the change is Twain scholar Alan Gribben, English professor at Auburn University Montgomery. Gribben, in defense of his censored version, said "I want to provide an option for teachers and other people not comfortable with 219 instances of that word."
According to Herbert Foerstall, author of "Banned in the USA", Huckleberry Finn is the 4th most frequently banned book in American schools - with offensive language cited as the most common reason for the ban.
Yesterday, nine authors, English professors, and a professor of law weighed in on the subject of sanitizing the Twain classic in the New York Times feature Room for Debate. All nine responses are excellent reading. I enjoyed them all for the passionate and articulate points each author made.
Twain himself cared about words and chose them very carefully. In fact, he said "The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. It is the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning". I'm pretty sure I know which side of the argument Mr. Twain would come down on.
Even Steven Colbert had an opinion.
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How about you?