An Auburn professor is making controversial changes to a piece of literary history by publishing a new version of Mark Twain’s most famous novel, Huckleberry Finn.
Alan Gribben, an English professor at Auburn University, is interchanging racially charged words that could potentially cause controversy with less sensitive words, such as replacing the n-word with “slave” and “Indian” with “injun”.
The n-word appears 219 times throughout Huckleberry Finn.
According to an interview with Reuters, Gribben’s reasoning behind the changes are because schools and organizations have banned and simply stopped teaching from the books because of the use of the controversial word and the characterization of Native Americans.
“It is a shame that a single word can form such an impediment to students enjoying the greatness of the narratives and the sharpness of their social critique,” said Gribben, in the Reuters report.
But, as it should, this move is causing quite a bit of controversy.
“They have stood the test of time. The book is an anti-racist book and to change the language changes the power of the book. He wrote to make us squirm and to poke us with a sharp stick. That was the purpose,” said Cindy Lovell, the executive director of The Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Missouri, to Reuters.
Morehouse University’s David Wall told CBS Correspondent Mark Strassman that the word helps people face racism and “We have to have the discussion about it. We can’t skate over it.”
Watch full CBS News report below:
It’s my opinion along with many others, that changes likes these will warrant others to change classic novels because of potentially “offensive” or “politically incorrect” language.
I cannot imagine what Mark Twain would think if he knew his words that survived over a century were changed because it offended too many people.
Like Wall told CBS, the word helps spark interest and start a discussion on racism and the effects of a single word. It’s a word that should disgust people when it’s used, and Mark Twain’s use of it — and the dialoge that ensues — should help us create a more welcoming and open minded society for all.