Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Publisher removes bad words from Mark Twain compilation

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Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain
Mark Twain

And the defilement of historical relics in the name of modern caprices continues:

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Mark Twain wrote that "the difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter." A new edition of "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and "Tom Sawyer" will try to find out if that holds true by replacing the N-word with "slave" in an effort not to offend readers.

Twain scholar Alan Gribben, who is working with NewSouth Books in Alabama to publish a combined volume of the books, said the N-word appears 219 times in "Huck Finn" and four times in "Tom Sawyer." He said the word puts the books in danger of joining the list of literary classics that Twain once humorously defined as those "which people praise and don't read."

"It's such a shame that one word should be a barrier between a marvelous reading experience and a lot of readers," Gribben said.

You know what’s a far bigger shame, Gribben? That fools can decide to desecrate literary masterpieces for the sake of appeasing the lowest common denomination of whiny pissants who apparently can’t stomach the fact that terms like “nigger” were simply how people spoke back in Mark Twain’s day (and until much more recently, too). This is little short of historical revisionism, wherein unpleasant aspects of a people’s cultural past are revised and cleaned up in an effort to appeal to modern audiences, the same as with all those fools who erase cigarettes from photos of past celebrities and the likes. It’s cheap and dishonest, trying to sell a lie about a past that wasn’t.

Thankfully, people have been quick to react to this nonsense. Unfortunately, Gribben is sorely missing the point:

The book isn't scheduled to be published until February, at a mere 7,500 copies, but Gribben has already received a flood of hateful e-mail accusing him of desecrating the novels. He said the e-mails prove the word makes people uncomfortable.

"Not one of them mentions the word. They dance around it," he said.

Why, yes, Gribben. That’s obviously why people are angry in their letters to you: they’re uncomfortable with the “N-word”. Can’t be that they’re both pissed at what you’re doing and don’t like to spell the epithet, can it?

As if Gribben’s ridiculous attempt to see validation of his action in the furor he’s caused weren’t absurd enough, you really have to ask yourself: Is replacing instances of “nigger” with “slave” all that preferable? I dunno about you or Black people, not being one myself, but I would assume that being called a “nigger”, as insulting as it is, probably pales in comparison to being labeled as someone who should be sweating away in a cotton field like a cheap three-fifths of a person. Just sayin’.

It’s also about as insulting (if not a tiny bit more) as seeing Gribben be labeled a “Mark Twain scholar” when he is so quick to betray the true nature of the man’s works to appease the worthless sensibilities of pearl-clutchers.