Thursday, January 6, 2011

Some idiot has decided to castrate Huck Finn

Disclaimer: I am a big Mark Twain fan.

Some idiot has decided to castrate Huck Finn.

This is not the first time someone has tried to censor Huck Finn and it won't be the last.

Mark Twain wrote the book AFTER slavery had ended. One of the things it did was capture a time and place for future generations so we could SEE how ugly and vile racism could be. Censoring it whitewashes the past, making the evils and oppression committed against slaves seem less vile than they really were.

Huck Finn is one of the most banned books in history. It was banned in many Southern states when it first came out, not because it dropped the N-Bomb about as often as people actually used it, but because it offended white sensibilities by portraying Jim as a better human being and father than Huck's own Pappy. At one point Huck has an internal debate about the morality of helping a slave escape. He was taught by the preacher that what he was doing constituted stealing and he'd go to Hell for it. In the end Huck puts his loyalty to Jim ahead of his own soul and decides that if he has to go to Hell for helping Jim, then he'll go to Hell.

Back in the 1990's "The Oxford Mark Twain" was published, a multi-volume collection of the Twain books that were published in his lifetime. They contained introductions and afterwords by famous authors and scholars. I highly recommend going to your local library and checking out Toni Morrison's introduction to Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

The butcher "modernizing" (Castrating) Huck Finn is described in some sources as a "Mark Twain scholar." I can't see how a serious student of Mark Twain's work could seriously consider gutting Huck Finn to be a good thing. This isn't a case of removing some of the anti-Indian racism in "Roughing It" because it's embarrassing, this is vivisecting a vital component of Huck Finn for the sake of an abstract ivory tower fantasy of political correctness.

I foresee two groups being fans of this neutered Hick Finn.

1. Hand-writing, OCD academics and activists who are more concerned with word counting than the actual content of the piece.

2. Racists and white supremacists who are happy to see the racism of the past toned down so it doesn't seem as bad to modern readers.

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