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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