Saturday, January 8, 2011
This Is How It Begins...
I am quite sure Mark Twain is rolling in his grave. And as annoyed as I am over the suggestion of changing his work, I am more concerned about what this says about us as a society.
The New York Times has published a discussion regarding English professor Alan Gribben's argument that Mark Twain's classic Huckleberry Finn should be changed to remove the offensive "n" word I hold in such disdain. Additionally, Injun Joe's name is changed to "Indian" to be more politically correct for this society we inhabit.
Seriously? Again, I detest the "n" word regardless of who uses it. However, this classic piece of literature is set during a time in history that can not, and should not, be forgotten. Let's look at the same word used in another classic, the book claimed to be the best written in the 20th century: To Kill A Mockingbird. The "n" word is peppered all through-out this book. Keep in mind the time the story occurs. And look at the ignorance of the characters using the word. Our hero, Atticus Finch, detests the "n" word. The use of this verbiage by people of so-called high-society reveals their true ignorance despite family name or pedigree.
Editing Mark Twain's work does not change history. In fact, in light of the way the "n" word is used so callously today in music, on MTV, and in movies, I believe more than ever it needs to remain in literature so our youth can fully understand why the term is so utterly deplorable. Only by understanding the connotations associated with such a word can they understand how far we have come. Listening to it used as common-place in the world of rap and some movies will lessen the severity and inhumane use of such language.
As a writer, the idea we would ever entertain editing the work of someone as great as Mark Twain disgusts me. What is next? A fig-leaf for Michaelangelo's David? A contraption a la' Victoria's Secret for Venus de Milo? America allowed this segregation and mis-treatment. Re-writing history does not change it; it merely chooses to ignore the truth.