Disgrace to The Professoriate

January 7, 2011

This motherfucker is a motherfucken disgrace to the professoriate:

A new edition of “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is missing something.

Throughout the book — 219 times in all — the word “nigger” is replaced by “slave,” a substitution that was made by NewSouth Books, a publisher based in Alabama, which plans to release the edition in February.

Alan Gribben, a professor of English at Auburn University at Montgomery, approached the publisher with the idea in July. Mr. Gribben said Tuesday that he had been teaching Mark Twain for decades and always hesitated before reading aloud the common racial epithet, which is used liberally in the book, a reflection of social attitudes in the mid-19th century.

“I found myself right out of graduate school at Berkeley not wanting to pronounce that word when I was teaching either ‘Huckleberry Finn’ or ‘Tom Sawyer,’ ” he said. “And I don’t think I’m alone.”

Mr. Gribben, who combined “Huckleberry Finn” with “Tom Sawyer” in a single volume and also supplied an introduction, said he worried that “Huckleberry Finn” had fallen off reading lists, and wanted to offer an edition that is not for scholars, but for younger people and general readers.

“I’m by no means sanitizing Mark Twain,” Mr. Gribben said. “The sharp social critiques are in there. The humor is intact. I just had the idea to get us away from obsessing about this one word, and just let the stories stand alone.” (The book also substitutes “Indian” for “injun.”)

You don’t fucke with fucken art, and you especially don’t fucke with Mark Motherfucken Twain!

(h/t Rude Pundit.)

9 Responses to “Disgrace to The Professoriate”

  1. Dr. O Says:

    But surely erasing the “n” word means it never happened, right?

  2. Juniper Shoemaker Says:

    The same stupid thing happened to John Rowe Townsend’s Gumble’s Yard, the British children’s classic. The protagonists’ working-class English dialogue was rewritten into standard English, and phrases such as “Jewish shop” were replaced by “corner shop”. Since Gumble’s Yard first emerged as a rare portrayal of the struggles of impoverished English children, this “sanitization” of the novel does readers a disservice on multiple levels.

    Boring prose makes for neither accurate portrayals of the ugly parts of human life nor great literature. I wish people weren’t idiots.

  3. tideliar Says:

    “I’m by no means sanitizing Mark Twain,” Mr. Gribben said”

    Fuckken moronic Bowdlerising douchenozzle. Who the fuck is he to do this!?

    Oh it maes me feel unconfortable. Well, fucking boohoo you selfrighteous prig.

  4. becca Says:

    Disgrace to the professoriate? Get a grip.
    Should people be able to discuss it like adults by *college*? Yes. But that doesn’t mean the book might not have a valid audience. My mom censored the word when she read me the book.


  5. I don’t understand why they don’t just put n—- in the high school edition and let kids know it has been censored for inappropriate language. That keeps black kids from having to hear their white teachers say it and read it themselves (the primary argument on CNN). I have some sympathy for their argument because I have sympathy for the argument that physics textbooks need to have women in the word problems 50% of the time. These things matter. Nobody should be forced, in a required high school class, to be exposed to language that demeans their race or gender. At the same time, using the word “slave” loses some of the casual horror that Mark Twain was showcasing and condemning.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    God forbid I should agree with Becca, but I censor it when I read it to my kids as well.

  7. Juniper Shoemaker Says:

    My mom censored the word when she read me the book.

    Wait a minute, really? Do you know I still get called a nigger?

  8. Zuska Says:

    Perhaps Mr. Gribben could have consulted a copy of Emily Bernard’s essay in the American Scholar. http://www.theamericanscholar.org/teaching-the-n-word/ as a teaching aide, as an alternative to letting his anxiety and ego lead him to editing Mark Twain.

  9. becca Says:

    Yes, really. And I think it’s incredibly messed up that people call you that.

    My mom and I did discuss the word and the book and the time period, she just didn’t read it.
    I think part of my mom’s goal was to not normalize the word.
    Of course, part of her goal might also have been to protect me (it’s hard to get a kid known as a walking dictionary to not use words. even if it’s plain stupid to use that word when you are one of the 25% non-black kids in a school; standard notions of privilege don’t translate completely in that context)

    Short-term result: my mom had to deliver one comically ambivalent scolding when I thwacked a small girl who called my best friend a nigger.

    In fairness to my mom, she wanted to teach me not to hit kids- especially those smaller than me- even if she agreed they kind of deserved a good thwacking.
    In fairness to me, the little brat had a knife. I thought that trumped being smaller.


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