Due to the slow decline of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn being taught in schools because of the use of the “n-word,” which is generally used to describe Huck’s traveling companion Jim, Mark Twain scholar Alan Gribben and NewSouth Books are planning to release a censored version of the book that replaces the n-word with the word “slave.”
This version of Huckleberry Finn will be released in a single volume with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Gribben, who has been head of the English department at Auburn University at Montgomery for the past twenty years, says this censored version “is not an effort to render Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn colorblind,” because “race matters in these books,” but the issue is how it is expressed in the 21st century, claiming the slur has been creating issues in modern day classrooms, even though it is being read aloud and quoted straight from the book. The publisher says there’s a market for a sanitized Huck Finn:
“What [Gribben] suggested … was that there was a market for a book in which the n-word was switched out for something less hurtful, less controversial. We recognized that some people would say that this was censorship of a kind, but our feeling is that there are plenty of other books out there—all of them, in fact—that faithfully replicate the text, and that this was simply an option for those who were increasingly uncomfortable, as he put it, insisting students read a text which was so incredibly hurtful.”
Gribben is fully aware that this new censored edition will cause its own form of controversy, but hopes it will allow the book to reach a new audience that previously avoided the book due to the choice language.