At least that’s what I like to tell my cable company. Bunch of wankers. Internet was off and on all day Monday, fine Tuesday, and now I expect them to come and take a look today, proclaim everything is all set, then it will surely go out again next week. *sigh* Needless to say I’m trying really hard to still be on top of everything which, strangely, I think my son’s new sleep schedule will aid me in. Who thinks I can get Comcast to be just as agreeable as my toddler?
Silly me. I guess they already are.
Anywho, not overmuch has happened of late. Got a few posts I’m working on (boy am I behind on writing book reviews), emails are being chiseled away at, while I continue to remain behind on my reading of War and Peace. So, you win some, you lose some I guess.
There is one bit of news that came to my attention today that I would love to hear some thoughts on from you folks. Check out the link here and admire a few excerpts.
Twain himself defined a “classic” as “a book which people praise and don’t read.” Rather than see Twain’s most important work succumb to that fate, Twain scholar Alan Gribben and NewSouth Books plan to release a version of Huckleberry Finn, in a single volume with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, that does away with the “n” word (as well as the “in” word, “Injun”) by replacing it with the word “slave.”
“This is not an effort to render Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn colorblind,” said Gribben, speaking from his office at Auburn University at Montgomery, where he’s spent most of the past 20 years heading the English department. “Race matters in these books. It’s a matter of how you express that in the 21st century.”
The last paragraph in this excerpt kind of sums it up for me:
“After a number of talks, I was sought out by local teachers, and to a person they said we would love to teach this novel, and Huckleberry Finn, but we feel we can’t do it anymore. In the new classroom, it’s really not acceptable.” Gribben became determined to offer an alternative for grade school classrooms and “general readers” that would allow them to appreciate and enjoy all the book has to offer. “For a single word to form a barrier, it seems such an unnecessary state of affairs,” he said.
Gribben has no illusions about the new edition’s potential for controversy. “I’m hoping that people will welcome this new option, but I suspect that textual purists will be horrified,” he said. “Already, one professor told me that he is very disappointed that I was involved in this.” Indeed, Twain scholar Thomas Wortham, at UCLA, compared Gribben to Thomas Bowdler (who published expurgated versions of Shakespeare for family reading), telling PW that “a book like Professor Gribben has imagined doesn’t challenge children [and their teachers] to ask, ‘Why would a child like Huck use such reprehensible language?’ “
So, folks, what say you? Do you think it’s ever appropriate to edit a piece of ALREADY PUBLISHED work in order to make it more palatable? More teachable? Why? Under what conditions? Are there any?
You can probably guess my opinion, but just in case you can’t here it is: No. Just. No. Editing happens before it gets published, afterward it’s censorship. People need to stop walking on eggshells and demonstrate true empathy by being willing to teach why the language was as it was. Sugar coating it doesn’t make it better or disappear, it just means we decided to take the “He Who Must Not Be Named” approach. Words have meaning, use the ones Twain did to teach. This, imo, is even worse than that school who decided to pull the school production of To Kill a Mockinbird for the same reason [don’t know if it ever got put on, but the Board of Education did vote that it could be].