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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
=?iso-8859-1?Q?Kent_Rasmussen?= <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 16 Feb 2007 14:24:25 -0500
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
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Your description of Seelye's THE TRUE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN (1970;
rev. ed., 1987) is broadly accurate; however, that book does not
use "negro" in place of "nigger." In fact, its language is generally far
coarser than that of Mark Twain's original novel.

In answer to Camy's question--bowdlerizations of HUCKLEBERRY FINN probably
go back to the 1930s, when the book fell out of copyright. Such sanitized
versions are usually described as "adapted by," "retold by," or the like.
One recent edition is in Baronet Books' "Great Illustrated Classics"
series. It not only doesn't use the word "nigger," it appears not to
use "negro" or any term other than "slave" for African Americans.

Mark Twain experienced similar censorship during his own time. He first
published TOM SAWYER ABROAD in ST. NICHOLAS MAGAZINE. The editor of that
children's magazine, Mary Mapes Dodge (author of HANS BRINKER, OR THE
SILVER SKATES) objected to the story's use of the word "nigger" and changed
it to "darky" (she also had illustrator Dan Beard put shoes on the
characters). Mark Twain was livid when he found out what Dodge had done but
discovered her changes too late to prevent them from going into print. To
make matters worse, when TOM SAWYER ABROAD was set in type for the American
book edition, the typesetters set the pages from the magazine text. "Darky"
then found its way into the early chapters of the book, which was published
by Mark Twain's own company. That error was caught in time for the
typesetters to use his original language through the latter half of the
book. Unfortunately, the text of the first American edition of the book was
copied by virtually all later versions of the book, until the University of
California Press issued a corrected edition many years later.