This post is a response to the Cnn iReport here.
I understand how offensive the ‘N’ word is and the racism that existed during the time of this book being written cannot and should not be tolerated now. HOWEVER, Mark Twain is one of America’s truly great early authors so should we not take pause before ‘editing’ his work?
Ernest Hemingway commented once that all modern literature in our country sparks from the birth of this Twain novel. We learn from this microcosm of pre-Civil War America the prevalent attitudes of racism and the social injustice of slavery that leads to the Civil War. The fact that the language of the book shocks readers today is poignant — it reflects the massive shift in our culture towards civil rights and the freedom of mankind.
By making Mark Twain “politically correct” (sanitization), we open ourselves as a nation to stripping from his novels the elements that made them relevant to the time it was written and a reminder of where we have progressed today.
If we begin with Mark Twain, certainly one of the most celebrated authors in our country, where will this path down the rabbit-hole lead? Might we not then also begin to re-examine other classic works? What is to prevent others from sanitizing works of other “hot topics” that often make banned books week, such as “To Kill a Mockingbird” or “1984”? What stops us from re-writting any historic work that challenges popular opinion, be it the Gettysburg Address by President Lincoln (where the phrase “under God” was challenged in October 2010), or The Bible?
In this new decade, I wonder, what will America find down the ‘rabbit-hole’ of censorship?
Something to chew on — Have you read any of Mark Twain’s works? Which ones? Have you seen the film(s)? Tell me about them! What do you think of these new changes proposed to alter the books?
- Sanitized Edition Of ‘Huckleberry Finn’ Causes Uproar (npr.org)
- Stephen Colbert Says He Is A ‘Huge Fan Of Censorship’: Jokingly Praises New ‘Huckleberry Finn’ (VIDEO) (huffingtonpost.com)
- Tweaking Twain OK as long as original version still available, WUSTL professor says