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Peter Salwen <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Peter Salwen <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 6 Jan 2011 08:56:10 -0800
text/plain (108 lines)
I'm afraid "densekelly" didn't quite catch Kent's satiric intent here, much as 
some of the reading public has failed to catch Twain's in HF.  All of which 
prompts me to unload a few observations about the current controversy over 
Alan's book:

1.  The rough language in "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" gives the book a lot 
of its power and authenticity.  (I take that as axiomatic, & have argued the 
point briefly in my "Is Huck Finn Racist?" web page, which has been online for 
about 15 years.) 

2.  A sanitized version is a poor substitute for the real thing.  
3.  A skilled, sensitive teacher can place the book that "all modern American 
literature comes from" in its historical and literary context and provide a 
deeply enriching experience even for students who may be reluctant to open it. 

On the other hand: 
5.  There are classroom situations where the real book will never get a fair 
hearing, for all kinds of real-world reasons, such as teachers who are NOT 
skilled or sensitive (yes, Virginia, there are such people); parental and/or 
administrative hysteria; students (or parents) who are so put off by "nigger" 
that nothing else can get through to them (and who I believe are well within 
their rights, by the way); and of course, grandstanding politicians.

6.  As a result, thousands of kids are just plain never going to see the book in 

7.  Alan's edition may allow these kids at least some access -- if regrettably 
attenuated -- to a great book. 

I would add that the publication of a "sanitized" HF is NOT censorship. 
Censorship is what happened to Pasternak and Solzhenitzin in the USSR. 
 Huckleberry Finn is readily available and always will be.  They've been 
printing watered-down Huckleberry Finns for nearly a century (see the 2006 
edition from Sterling Press if you want a real cringe-worthy experience); Alan's 
edition may be the only such version that admits to being what it is and 
explains the reasons -- and, presumably, urges readers, when/if they're ready, 
to go out and read Mark Twain's own version.  


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
- - - - - - - - 
Peter Salwen |  114 W 86th Street, New York, NY 10024  
cell 917-620-5371  |  212-873-1944  |
"New Year's Day-- Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good 
resolutions.  Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual."  -- Mark 

From: "[log in to unmask]" <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Thu, January 6, 2011 1:27:37 AM
Subject: Re: a new Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

I am pleased to learn that you gave up on the Politically Correct (but Wrecked) 
version.  The snippet you have given makes it clear that your translation goes 
from the unforgettable to the unreadable.

-----Original Message-----

From: Kent_Rasmussen <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Wed, Jan 5, 2011 10:33 am
Subject: Re: a new Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Like that of many others posting on this subject, my first reaction to this news 

was one of astonishment. However, after giving the matter further thought, I 
wonder if it wouldn't be better to carry the revision of _Huckleberry Finn_ even 

further. And, I'm happy to report, I'm ready to help. About sixteen years ago, 
just for fun, I started to rewrite the book myself, with the idea of publishing 
it as _The Politically Correct (but Wrecked) Adventures of Huckleberry Finn_. To 

provide some of the flavor of my 100% non-offensive text, here's my version of 
Pap's drunken diatribe. (Note, by the way, how neatly it handles the 
uncomfortable matter of substituting "slave=" for the uncomfortable word that 
begins with the letter following M in the alphabet.)

"Oh, yes, we have wonderful institutions!  How's this for an example: I heard of 

a free African American from Ohio who dressed better than any European American 
in town. He even had a gold watch and chain and silver-headed cane. Oh yes, he 
was quite the dandy. What's more, they said he was a multilingual college 
professor with a vast repertoire of knowledge. That was bad enough. When they 
said he could vote in his home state, that was too much.  What, I wondered, is 
our country coming to? Well, it happened to be election day and I would have 
gone to vote myself, if I been in a condition to get there safely, but when I 
heard that there's a state which actually lets a person of color vote, I stopped 

and said that I would never vote again. Those are my exact words -- everyone 
heard me. Why, the country can founder for all I care. And to think of the 
presumption of that man -- why, he wouldn't have conceded my right-of-way unless 

I pushed him aside! When I asked why he wasn't sold back into involuntary 
servitude, do you know what people said? That he couldn't be sold unless he 
spent six months in the state. How's that for an example of our government 
institutions? Pretty sad, if you ask me."