“The difference between the almost right word and the right word…”

So Huck Finn and his friend Tom Sawyer, have been sanitised in “new” versions of the books to be published in February.

The result?  Uproar, furore among hundreds of Twain fans, historians and the literary world.  Oh, and Mark Twain himself.  How do I know this?  I know because you only have to find a site of Twain quotes and it’s as close as you’ll get to comments from beyond the grave.

A BBC article illustrates this nicely with a few choice quotes from Mark Twain.  But it also points to other reasons why this sort of re-writing is not necessarily a helpful or good thing to do.

And what’s next?  Heavens, where on earth do you stop?  Shhh, don’t anyone tell them about To Kill a Mocking Bird (which I’ve just re-read).

Is it wise to try to paint over the murkier aspects of the past?  Especially when taking a work of literature which was one of the “good guys” – aiming to point out how wrong slavery and its accompanying terminology is, while also giving a vivid example of how an individual (Huck) comes to realise this.

I’ve read, and still have, both books which I loved reading and they were also very effective in teaching me about an aspect of the complex history and wrongs of racism and slavery.

How disruptive.  Perhaps there’s a place for a  search engine dedicated to helping find the “original” material.

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