Between The Lines

If the mixture of articles selected for inclusion in this weekend’s USA Today meaningfully reflects a diverse population’s collective interests, then ours is a nation of strange priorities. The current issue runs an unusually hefty 54 pages, thanks to a special section highlighting Super Bowl XLVI. The 14-page supplement, longer than any one of the self-billed Nation’s Newspaper‘s customary News, Money, Sports, and Life sections, includes detailed analyses of the upcoming game, in-depth profiles of players, and even a cutaway diagram of host venue Lucas Oil Stadium. As hyped as the Super Bowl is, it’s an understandable – and I imagine rather profitable – editorial concession.

But the spotlight on Super Bowl Sunday is not contained within its designated section. A quarter of the Sports section provides further insights, including Madonna’s tantalizing comments on the nature of her highly anticipated halftime performance. A lead article on the relationship of New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady dominates the front of the News section and continues over the whole of page two. The Money Section boasts a cover story about Super Bowl advertising, accompanied by a look at related smart-phone promotions and some insights on the rising popularity of chicken wings as a game day staple. Even the Life section is not exempt, lest a lightweight patron of the arts somehow miss the news that there is a very important football game this Sunday. There in the Travel subsection is a list of Larry Bird’s favorite haunts in Indianapolis, which, by the way, just happens to be hosting the Super Bowl this weekend. Read More

The Troubling Truths Of Huckleberry Finn

By the end of this post, you will never again be able to look at this illustration with innocent eyes.

In 1885, one hundred twenty-six years ago today, Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was finally published for the first time in the United States. The U.S. debut arrived two months after publication of the first Canadian and British editions, a curious arrangement that was not a calculated promotional strategy but rather the unfortunate consequence of sabotage. The first printing run was deemed unsuitable until a slyly added obscenity was removed. It was an oddly¬†appropriate beginning for a novel that has been subject to censorship ever since.

This year has brought us news of a forthcoming edition of Huck Finn that aims to resolve the controversy that has kept an American classic off the shelves of many a school library. Newsouth Books, under the editorship of Auburn University English professor and Twain scholar Alan Gribben, is attempting to make Huck Finn palatable to a much broader audience by simply replacing the words nigger and injun with slave and indian. While the change may indeed spark a Twain renaissance among institutions that have hitherto banned the work, does making such an edition available make much sense? Read More

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