New edition of 'Huckleberry Finn' to lose the N-word

Discussion in 'Up to the Minute' started by Fairy1, Jan 6, 2011.

  1. Fairy1

    Fairy1 Divided We Fall

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  3. Nova

    Nova Active Member

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    Yes, it bothers me and I think it's outrageous! Not to mention condescending to African-Americans.

    Everyone knows how the word "******" was used historically. Nobody is so delicate they need protection from it.

    (BTW, I am gay and consider the word "******" every bit as heinous as the word "******." My feelings are exactly the same concerning the "F word.")

    IMHO, kerfluffles over the "N word" do nothing but distract us from the very real racial issues and disparities that persist in our society.

    I also think the very term, "N word", is ridiculous, as everyone in the U.S., if not the planet, knows what the "N word" is. So saying "N word" merely produces the word "******" in the listener's mind.

    As a rule, I'm a defender of what is called "political correctness", but let's don't rewrite the classics. If necessary, let's use them as "teachable moments."
     
  4. Fairy1

    Fairy1 Divided We Fall

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    I appreciate your POV - truly. But I'm afraid being PC will be the undoing of this country. I prefer HONESTY!

    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was originally published in 1884. At the time, the narrative was true to life. I cannot understand why anyone would take such a liberty as to re-write a classic story - not to mention history. What else should be done to assuage the concerns of those who find this book - or any book - offensive?

    Should we re-write (or sugarcoat) every, single potentially offensive word or reference in every book ever written? Jeez.

    For those who find Huckleberry Finn offensive...DON'T READ IT! Same goes for all things "they" deem offensive.

    If schools don't make this book required reading for English or literature classes, it should at least be on the reading list for history classes.

    IMHO.
     
  5. Badger

    Badger New Member

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    This was new news to me but it reminds me of a situation several years ago. One of my daughters is a fan of the Gone With the Wind book and movie. For several years I purchased her the dolls at the gift shop at the Cracker Barrel. First Scarlett, then Rhett, then Papa O'Hara (sorry I don't remember his first name - Gerald?). When I asked for Prissy (Butterfly McQueen in real life) I was told that they were not allowed to display her as the NAACP was offended at the replica. I was shocked! Why? This woman should have been front and center as a trail blazer as an actress and not hidden in a back room. I still have the doll but if I had not made an issue of it ( demanding that they check their stockl) would have not. I am causian. Race has never been an issue with me but I want the truth and credit given to those who deserve it.
     
  6. Trident

    Trident Well-Known Member

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    Speaking of "Gone With The Wind", in the movie (made in 1930s) they did replace the "N" word in one place. It was in the book, but I've noticed it isn't in the movie and it hit a jarring note immediately. I wonder exactly WHEN that was done.

    I believe when we starting "changing" things, we're being dishonest. Let's not pretend things weren't the way they were.

    My opinion only
     
  7. hockeymom

    hockeymom New Member

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    I think its ridiculous to rewrite any book. It's a reflection of the time and should be used as a teaching moment. I want generations to come to know the realities of how things used to be and how far we have come,and how easy it might be to slip back. I'm sure the Holocaust is a chapter Germans would rather forget,but should it be "cleaned up" in books because it offends people? I think not.
    BTW, I think the term"Injun" is another word they want removed from the books. Isn't that the name of a main character? Are they going to call him,"Native American Joe"?
     
  8. cluciano63

    cluciano63 Well-Known Member

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    I hate this level of political correctness. Everything that has happened in the past needs to be taught, made available for the next generation to learn and study. Way too much trying to whitewash the past, editing out certain events, etc...the world was different back then, but it existed.
     
  9. ziggy

    ziggy New Member

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    Totally agree with Nova and others. We don't need to be protected from words, we need to have an open and honest discussion about the thoughts and feelings that seem to give those words power. It's the only way we'll ever really get past these issues.
     
  10. westsidefox64

    westsidefox64 Active Member

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    It makes my blood boil that anyone feels they have the right to change one word in this or any other book for that matter. JMO
     
  11. Nova

    Nova Active Member

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    Some forms of political correctness may be designed to hide or obscure the truth. Personally, I don't see the point in using "mentally challenged" instead of "retarded."

    But more often, what is disparaged as "PC" is in fact an attempt to be MORE honest by being more inclusive. Is it dishonest to acknowledge that women are also doctors, lawyers, astronauts and soldiers? Is it dishonest to note that most Muslims are NOT terrorists?

    Using "African-American" instead of "Negro" or "colored" may seem like bothersome PC-ness to some, but there is nothing inherently accurate or "honest" about the older terms. It's merely a question of who gets to choose the vocabulary, the group the terms refer to or outsiders.

    Using "gay" instead of "homosexual" may seem equally silly to some, until you consider that the word "homosexual" was coined to describe what was then considered a disease. In the century since, science has demonstrated sexual orientation is not a disease (or even a disability except when one is persecuted by society), so how can the name of a disease be more "honest" than a social term chosen by those who are deemed different largely on social grounds?

    In these and other instances, the supposedly "PC" view is in fact the more accurate, i.e., "honest" one.
     
  12. Nova

    Nova Active Member

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    I think the actress, Butterfly McQueen, WAS celebrated by African-Americans by and large. She had a long career touring to perform in front of black and white audiences alike.

    It's just that that particular character was imitated so often and embodied so many derogatory stereotypes about African Americans. In the book and film, Prissy is lazy, constantly avoiding work, stupid (knows nothing about childbirth or other things) and utterly helpless at the first sign of crisis.

    Just to be clear: no, I don't think you are racist because you wanted a complete set of figures from the movie. But I can understand the concerns of the NAACP.

    It's too bad, really. GWTW is a great film and, at the least, a very popular book; now that I've read Tolstoy's War and Peace, it's clear Mitchell aimed very high and hoped to create an American equivalent. So it's a shame Mitchell felt a need to use her narrative to basically apologize for slavery and suggest blacks were better off before Emancipation. She may have been influenced by the Fugitive Poets (such as Robert Penn Warren), who were writing similar nonsense at the same time, but most of the Fugitives had the good fortune to live long enough to repudiate their segregationist views. Mitchell did not.
     
  13. Nova

    Nova Active Member

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    For awhile, I thought Amerindians preferred "Native American" to "Indian" or "American Indian," but the ones I know (including some artists and political activists) say they don't care.

    To me, "Injun" is just a colloquial form of "Indian." So I don't understand this "controversy."
     
  14. krimekat

    krimekat Amazed and Baffled

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    I believe this is censorship & it is very scary we, as Americans, continue to allow this excessive PC-ness to exists.
     
  15. Kat

    Kat Kind words do not cost much

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    Just a note as the Mother of 5 kids.

    No I don't like this and I don't want this and if my kids are assigned to read a book that has words censored, then I will purchase them the book that is uncensored too.

    So what if the use of one word dates a book? The word has to be taken within the context of the era it was written. This isn't mass pulp fiction we are talking about, this is Twain. There are so many more layers to his works than just a word that in this day and age offends. In fact, the way Twain used that word--now has even more nuance---in building the character and shaping the relationship that eventually becomes between man (not seen as a man by society) and boy.

    (English Major here)

    So having explained my major let me eloquently say...

    Gaw, chaps my @rse.

    (enjoy your posts as always nova, good stuff there)
     
  16. Nova

    Nova Active Member

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    Thanks, kat, and nice post!

    I have always found it ironic that this particular book attracts so much controversy, considering that Jim represents an extraordinary attempt in its day by a white writer to present a black man as a subject in his own right, one as complex as his white counterparts.
     
  17. Daisyjane

    Daisyjane "All the clouds are clearing, and I think we're ov

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    One purpose of written communication is to preserve our heritage and culture as it is unfolding. How can we do that if we periodically edit our literature to bring it in line with current sensibilities? Will we someday have no "period pieces" to read?
     
  18. Nova

    Nova Active Member

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    This may seem to contradict what I wrote above, but I have no problem with them changing the term for the movie. Even an adaptation is a different work of art from the novel and the adapters have the right to decide what works in their version. They probably decided the period accuracy of the word "******" was not important enough to make up for the negative affect the word would have on viewers.

    I'm currently writing a musical comedy that takes place in 1943. In that year, no American bothered to say "Japanese," everyone said "Japs." But the latter is considered offensive now and while I don't mind offending people when there's a good reason, it would serve no purpose in my play. So I'm finding creative ways to refer to "the enemy" or "Hirohito and his pals" without using a term that offends modern sensibilities. It's just one more challenge for me as a writer, not really a burden. As with the film of GWTW, it isn't my job in this piece to teach everyone correct 1940s' slang.
     
  19. hockeymom

    hockeymom New Member

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    Nova,what you said makes perfect sense to me. When someone adapts a movie from a book,they usually do change things up,but its wrong to change original works.

    (good luck with your musical.I love that time period)
     
  20. Nova

    Nova Active Member

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    Since my area of expertise is musical theater, most examples of which are adaptations from other media, I've read (and thought) quite a bit about the process. As a rule, the first advice given to those who adapt a piece from one medium to another is that they have to accept that their adaptation is a new work, with its own needs and rules. You can't, for example, just add songs to a non-musical play and hope to have a success; you really have to reimagine the entire work as a musical.

    That being said, those who make screenplays from popular books know they have to meet certain expectations from fans of the book. The filmmakers of GWTW chose to emphasize the romance of the book and leave out the detailed descriptions of the South during the War and Reconstruction. In doing so, they made something new in the film, but also gave the appearance of being faithful to the novel.
     
  21. Pandora

    Pandora New Member

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    The insane thing about this "controversy" is that a "clean" version has been out for YEARS! I believe the version I use in my 7th grade classroom came out in 1992. So why is this news? There is an article published w/ my edition entitled "Should This Book Be Banned?" which does use the n-word and explains the context in which Mark Twain used it. My students are required to read it and then write a letter from their parents' point of view to the principal praising or decrying the book. They must state the opinion and defend it. Then, they must respond from the principal's point of view to the parent explaining why the book was chosen.

    In the school where I work, the teachers in the older grades (11th is American Lit.) won't touch the book due to the language. I feel it is more important for students to get the basic storyline and understand the origin of the word than to pretend it doesn't exist. However, if I let them read that language aloud (we're still working on fluency in the 7th grade, so we must read aloud), they ARE going to say it elsewhere. It's just a fact. The clean version is what I have to work with. It's better than nothing and paired with some original slave narratives, I think they get the point.
     

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