The Mark Twain Controversy Continues, and Nancy Pearl Weighs In

As we've heard recently, in NewSouth Book's new edition of Huckleberry Finn, they will replace the "n-word" and "injun" with the word slave. More on the forthcoming edition from The New York Times. Nancy Pearl, just named Librarian of the Year says "I think it's a mistake, because books are written at a particular time in history, and we need to read them with the knowledge that they're written at those times. This is the way the world was then, and this is the way the world is now, when that kind of language isn't acceptable." Pearl told KIRO Radio's Frank Shiers that if readers are offended by the use of such language in the book they simply don't get it (below).
More audio at


The Best Damn Creative Writing Blog on the omission of the 'n' word from the New South edition of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

okay first of all YOU CAN'T CHANGE HISTORY and i don't like the word "slave" used in place of the "N-word" honestly i think they should have left the book alone. if you don't like it don't read it that is all i'm saying. i do not think people should change anything in history people need to know AND BE AWARE OF where we were and what we have become today OTHERWISE people won't be proud of what we've become and how hard people have strived for EQUALITY!~

I have been a public school teacher-librarian for 17 years. I find it amusing that New South thinks that changing the words in Huck Finn will sell books. (I don't buy books that publishers have "changed" (censored!), but then I am a thinking individual that can appreciate a story in its original context. I wonder what those conservatives would say about a publisher changing/censoring the Bible?) I doubt it will make the NYT bestsellers; I doubt it will sell more than a single print run for conservatives and their school districts.

Maybe if we all quit printing and saying the word, the Oxford English Dictionary will delete the word from their next edition and eventually it will leave our cultural mindset. Oh, what a glorious day it will be when we don't have prejudicial words to describe feelings that we shouldn't ever have had in the first place! That will be the day that Huck Finn will no longer be studied, read, printed, sold or understood. Not gonna happen in my lifetime.

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