07 January 2011
Next month, a publisher called NewSouth will release new versions of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, expurgated of "nigger." I certainly don't recommend employment of that word in the Third Millennium AD, but it ought to be noted that in the days when Mark Twain wrote, literary use of "nigger" was simply a way to represent, in print, the typical Southern mispronunciation of "Negro"; not until well into the Twentieth Century did the term come to be regarded as a slur. (Joseph Conrad, who certainly was no racist, even used it in the title of one of his stories: The Nigger of the Narcissus.) It seems to me that the self-appointed revisor, one Alan Gribben, ought to devote effort instead to rewriting his name.