Internet Responds to Huck Finn Censorship

The big literary news of the week is that publisher NewSouth will be putting out a censored edition of Mark Twain’s classic novel of interracial man/boy love on the Mississippi, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In this new version, the “n-word” will be replaced by the word “slave.” Like every other even remotely controversial subject, people on the Internet are saying all sorts of shit about it. Some of the responses have been interesting and intelligently written, some have been parodic and hilarious, and others have just been plain dumb. After the jump, check out my suggested online reading guide so you, too, can be up to date on the controversy.

-For the basic facts, here’s the original article from Publisher’s Weekly, plus The Times’ story.

-For an outraged reaction from a prominent African-American intellectual, check out Ishmael Reed’s editorial in The Wall Street Journal, in which he claims this censorship is part of an “atavistic philistinism that has taken hold of our politics and culture [and] has found a place in academia.”

-For hilarious parody, nothing beats Oliver Miller’s “Even More Censored” version of Huck Finn, in which the whole novel takes place in one page, and Huck and Jim go to The Gap to buy khaki pants.

-More hilarity is to be found on novelist Arthur Philips Twitter page, where #GribbenClassicEditions has been trending all day. Sample tweet: “I say, James, you’re a poorly compensated agricultural worker, and I find myself at loose ends today. Are you in the mood for a raft cruise?”

-For a less dogmatic opinion, read Mary Elizabeth Williams’ piece in Salon, in which she points out that the Twain censorship, “isn’t the worst thing in the world.” Williams argues that we employ the same kind of whitewashing with songs on the radio, but ultimately, she too comes down on the non-censorship side of the argument.

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