Thursday, January 6, 2011

Updated Huck Finn?

Really? They can do that?  They can change a classic to make it politically correct?

I read the following in an article titled: Huck Finn will lose the "N" Word. I was interested in the reasoning behind the change--but I wonder what other classics will be next? And maybe as a result history itself will be rewritten?

Revisionist history and political correctness have gone too far this time.
The problem with changing the words to make the book more acceptable is that the greatest aspect of Mark Twain's writing was that it recorded the style of the day. It was in context with where we were in America at that time. How people spoke, interacted, and thought. Changing that, to make it acceptable to modern readers loses historical value. It is the same as retouching an old photograph to remove or add items or people and dubbing over an audio track.  Twain's writing is an image and a sound-byte into real America at that time.  It is gritty and real and we need to hear and read it to understand how far we have come in America in terms of accepting ethnic diversity.

I agree with the online dictionary that this word has become probably the most offensive word in English. There are lots of mundane and offensive words that I have, sadly, been known to use and abuse--but I would never consider using this particular word in any manner and I even refuse to write it for fear of the consequences and contextual extractions which might result. 

That written, however, I believe we lose more than we gain and future generations of Americans will lose touch with the real, earthy America of which Twain wrote. I also disagree with their updating of the word to reflect "slave" as I do not believe it is the correct word to use. Slave was not a definition listed in the on line dictionary. But, it has been a long time since I read the book.

By the way--the word is also used in Gone with the Wind--although not to the same extreme that Twain wrote it.  I wonder if that book is next to be revised.

Next, someone will be trying to update the language in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
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