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Teaching 'Huck Finn' Without the 'N' Word

In part to counteract its gradual disappearance from school reading lists, the publisher NewSouth Books plans to release a version of Mark Twain's Adventures Huckleberry Finn next month that eliminates the "n" word, according to Publisher's Weekly.

The new edition will be edited by Alan Gribben, a noted Twain scholar at Auburn University. In defending the idea, Gribben said that during a recent speaking tour he heard from a number of teachers who said they would love to teach Huck Finn but couldn't because the language isn't acceptable for their classes. "For a single word to form a barrier, it seems such an unnecessary state of affairs," he told PW.

In the new edition, the "n" word—which reportedly appears 219 times in the book—will be replaced with "slave." "Race matters in these books," Gribben emphasized. "It's a matter of how you express that in the 21st Century."

Others disagree. One scholar told PW that the altered text will be less likely to challenge teachers and students to examine the historical context of the novel and the racial relations of the period.

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