Whoopi Goldberg talks new Mark Twain ‘Huck Finn,’ erasing N-word (video) — On ABC’s morning program The View on Monday, co-host Whoopi Goldberg argued against a forthcoming edition of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn that replaces the N-word with the word “slave.” The book is edited by Mark Twain scholar, Alan Gribben and will be released next month.
The purpose of removing the N-word, which appears several hundred times in the novel, is explained in the edition’s introduction. Mr. Gribben laments how that single word in the current social climate has started keeping the American classic off school shelves. He writes about a 2009 lecture tour he went on throughout Alabama:
“In several towns I was taken aside after my talk by earnest middle and high school teachers who lamented the fact that they no longer felt justified in assigning either of Twain’s boy books because of the hurtful n-word. Here was further proof that this single debasing label is overwhelming every other consideration about Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, whereas what these novels have to offer readers hardly depends upon that one indefensible slur.”
Mr. Gribben also makes it clear that his edition is in no way intended to improve or match the original and is definitely not a scholarly edition of the classic.
Actor Whoopi Goldberg, an African-American, debated the notion. “If we don’t say, ‘This is where we came from,’ how can we train people where we need to go? If we erase a word and pretend it never was — it was there. It was a word.”
She described her collection of “Negro-belia,” as she calls it, that she keeps in her home, such as Aunt Jemima cookie jars: “When kids ask about it,” she said, “it is a great way to say the history of America’s been mixed. It has been hard in some places and wonderful in some places. When you read Huck Finn, and you read the relationship between Huck and Jim — who Huck does not see as anything but his running buddy — it is an extraordinary story.” She contended that the editor does not have a right to change a classic.
The new edition of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn follows just months after the release of Mark Twain’s autobiography, a book the author did not want published until 100 years after his death.
VIDEO: See Ms. Goldberg and The View co-hosts discuss the issue in the clip in the lefthand column of this page, or you can also watch it here.
PHOTO: See the cover of the new N-word-less Huck Finn in the lefthand column of this page, or here.
Comment below: What do you think of this controversial topic? Will the new edition of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn help educators teach this novel and keep it available to younger readers, or do these changes affect the quality of the work so much that they ruin a Mark Twain classic? Let us know your thoughts in the Comment Section.
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