Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are back in the midst of a book controversy. An Alabama book publisher will be publishing a combined volume of the Mark Twain books “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “Tom Sawyer” replacing the N-word with the word slave. That’s created a stir in the literary community. Fond du Lac Public Library Director Ken Hall says Twain used the N-word to comment on racism. “To sanitize history is to pretend that it didn’t exist,” says Hall.
Hall sits on the Fond du Lac School District’s Reconsideration Committee, which had to review some controversial books last year. He says both of the classic Twain books are usually assigned reading. Hall says the N-word is offensive, but that wasn’t Twain’s intention in using it. “In Huckleberry Finn, especially, in the relationship between Jim and Huck, he’s making a statement about the races and equality,” says Hall. “To try and change his words is to do him a disservice, and our history a disservice.” The N-word appears in “Huckleberry Finn” 219 times and four times in “Tom Sawyer.” NewSouth Books plans to publish the combined volume of Twain books replacing the N-word next month.
Bob Nelson, KFIZ