This year, Mark Twain scholar Alan Gribben partnered with publisher New South books to release a new, sanitized version of Huckleberry Finn. In this whitewashed version he has remove the N-word and Injun. His rational is that the work becomes eminently more teachable and that these words are negatively charged.
Alan Gribben, in my opinion, has performed a form of literary vandalism. He is not alone: the article, “A “sanitized” Huck Finn” in the March 2011 issue of the Newsletter of Intellectual Freedom points out that Thomas Bowdler cleansed Shakespeare to create a family-friendly version. These types of alteration are tantamount to me standing before Michelangelo’s David with the chisel thinking, “You know, I think I can make this better”. The artist has the right to have their work left unaltered. Twain picked these words, and by this I mean each and every word, thoughtfully and carefully. As Twain states in the explanatory notes, Huck’s speech is modeled after the Missouri rural dialect of the time. Vulgar and distasteful words and thoughts are part of our vernacular; can you imagine a language where these have been expunged?
Does Alan Gribben and others like him have so little respect for his fellow Americans that he believes we cannot tolerate our past and acknowledge the fact that we were a country that thought nothing of using derogatory slang? This type of censorship attempts to diminish the past and in doing so I feel is diminishes us. Intellectual Freedom holds the belief that we do not need to be protected by others from thoughts and ideas. That political correctness in literature is a form of social conformity that has the effect of limiting expression and creativity. Freedom is dangerous, but the alternate is to imprison yourself in a cage where you are spoon fed the thoughts of others.
” PostPartisan – ‘Huck Finn’ sanitized for your protection .” Blogs & Columns, Blog Directory – The Washington Post. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 May 2011
“A “sanitized” Huck Finn.” Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom 1 Mar. 2011: 45-46. Print.