Revised Mark Twain Works Omit 'Offensive' Words

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Mark Twain's classic works have long been considered too politically incorrect for today's readers.

Consequently, a publishing company has announced they will print revised versions of "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and "Tom Sawyer." The new books won't be released until February and will be limited to a press run of only 7,500 copies.

The "n-word" appears 219 times in Huck Finn and four times in Tom Sawyer. The new editions will replace the term with the word, "slave."

Twain wrote in a letter in 1888 that "the difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter."

Critics of the reprint say that Mark Twain's language represents America's past and that the revisions are untrue to the time period.

Twain scholar Alan Gribben, who is working with NewSouth Books in Alabama to publish a combined volume of the books, said the word puts the books in danger of joining the list of literary classics that Twain once humorously defined as those "which people praise and don't read."

"It's such a shame that one word should be a barrier between a marvelous reading experience and a lot of readers," Gribben said.

Another Twain scholar, Prof. Stephen Railton at the University of Virginia, said Gribben was well respected but called the new version "a terrible idea."

He has an unaltered version of "Huck Finn" coming out later this year that includes context for schools to explore racism and slavery in the book.

"If we can't do that in the classroom, we can't do that anywhere," he said.

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