I am not going to get political here, but I felt this should be commented on. An Alabama publisher has recently stated plans to change a certain "n" word (yep, you know what it is) throughout the classic text The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn into "slave." I understand the reasoning, the same reasoning that a decade or so ago lead to many southern states removing or voting to remove the confederate banner from their flags: It makes people uncomfortable. The people who read it, the people who study it; everybody gets uncomfortable around that word. And rightly so, it brings up horrible connotations of horrible acts and injustices. I have two thoughts on the matter:
1) If written today, Twain would not have used that word. In the past 100 years since the book was written, times they have a-changed. What was common vernacular then is now seen as a vehicle of hate. Twain was a consummate abolitionist, as the majority of the text shows, and his inclusion of the word was not one of bigotry but of historical accuracy. He wrote how people talked, plain and simple. He was also a man who cared a great deal about what the world in general thought about him and would not want to be thought of as racist. To prove my point, check out when his autobiography came out.
2) If we change what some (if not most) scholars consider to be THE American classic, what is next? In this world of "find and replace" typing, who is to say what is correct editing? What many view as a snapshot story in history by a great author, others see as a string of profanities that put them off the work entirely. And do not forget, this has happened before, but with the author's consent. But think about how changing this text, this important work will lead to the thinking that other works should be changed as well.
My ending opinion? Conclusion? Hell, I do not know. I am against censorship in any form, yet I can see how changing just one word in the text will reopen it for thousands who cast it off as a horror show of racism. Ultimately, I have to say let them publish it. God knows I have read enough terrible classic graphic novel interpretations. As long as the humor and story are left intact, that Twain's message is still there, I can live with it. Also, the text is public domain. They can not change all the copies, the bastards.
One other little tidbit. The publisher is also changing "injun" to "Indian." That is just ridiculous. Why not "Native American?" If we are going nuts here, take out all the apostrophes and dialect. Let's git that Huck Finn talkin' proper english and sivilised, dad nab'it! And if you want to take my old treasured copy, "All right, then, I'll go to hell."