Yesterday, I downloaded a bunch of classics from gutenberg. I downloaded maybe 17 classical works and only had trouble with two: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
They appeared to download fine. But, when I opened, I found nothing. Oh, it had, pictures of the cover and the spine, some of the inside pages, then the table of contents. It had the words “END OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK HUCKLEBERRY FINN“, followed by the text of its license.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was the same, except it also had a word from the author and this sentence: “END OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK TOM SAWYER.”
There was no book! The actual story was missing. Gone, rubbed out, dissappered, MIA.
So I (this morning!) turned on my computer and went to gutenberg, The html version works fine. Only, instead having of actual story in the page, they got links in the table of contents. On my kindle, the table of contents wasn’t actually linked to anything.
Gutenberg has chaptered versions, but I don’t want the book in three different pieces. I want it one piece. All the other Mark Twain books were one easy (i. e. working!) download. Why is Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn so special?
I know gutenberg is free and you get what you pay for, but why couldn’t the whole book be in one download? Why is the kindle version so messed up? Why?
*goes off to look for a kindle-friendly Tom Sawyer*
Alan Gribben, a Auburn University professor and Mark Twain scholar, is planning to release Huckleberry Finn where all instances of the word ‘nigger’ are replaced with ‘slave’. Nigger is an offensive word. There is no denying that and teaching it probably requires a special kind of delicacy. (I’d forgotten Huckleberry Finn is a children’s book; Sayantani reminded me.) According to the Publisher Weekly article, he is doing this because teachers can’t teach Huckleberry Finn since it uses the n-word. Gribben wants to offer a book that can be taught.
Maybe this is a good reason; none of my teachers ever taught this book or even suggested it to me (they knew I loved reading and were always suggesting books). Instead, in 6th grade, my teacher directed me towards Johnny Tremain (this is probably the closest I ever came to it in reading). I learned Huckleberry Finn’s itself from TV. (Since then, I have read the actual book!) So maybe his reasons are good.
Part of the argument is that nigger is used in Huckleberry Finn to mean slave and taking it out doesn’t alter the text’s meaning, just brings it into this decade. It is true; words and their meanings do change. (i. e. gay) Probably, there was point in time when nigger wasn’t a slur. I decided to look it up the word’s history and ran across these articles: The Savvy Sista, Abolish the N Word, Harp Week. The last one is probably the best of all three. It says by the early 19th century, nigger had already become an insult. According to wiki, Huckleberry Finn was published in the US in 1885 so . . .
It also mentions that sometimes the word is used among black people themselves and it is not an insult. I remember seeing that in high school myself (high school wasn’t that long ago. In the 2000′s decade. ) I will admit, it was confusing because everyone else (TV, parents, teachers, other black people) said it was a bad word. I soon realized that only some of the black boys used it and only among themselves. I figured it for some odd teenage black boy thing.
And yet, despite that, I can never be in favor in censorship. Which is what this is – blatant censorship. It should be possible to teach this book, without censorship, and put it in the appropriate context.