'Huckleberry Finn' Without the N-Word?

Tom Sawyer's classic has always been problematic because of its frequent use of the n-word. A new edition replaces the inflammatory word with "slave."


Mark Twain might have turned over in his grave on this one -- but more likely he would have found the humor in this lame attempt at revisionism. The proliferation of the n-word in Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has always made it a tricky book to teach. One scholar has come up with a solution: Just change the word, used 219 times in the book, to "slave."  Twain scholar Alan Gribben at Auburn University says that secondary-school teachers told him the book was not teachable anymore.

There will be a lot of words written about political correctness and censorship over this solution, but what this really tells us is the low level of pedagogic competence in our schools. For most teachers, getting across the context of the word's use in its time to a bunch of hyperactive teens is just not doable.

For more on the story, read it in USA Today.

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