Let’s face it. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is full of naughty words and questionable authorial decisions. Mark Twain’s overuse of he H-word is only the start. (I have to use “H-word” as code for “N-word,” which is upsetting enough.) I’ve been authorized by Professor Alan Gribben of Auburn University to pick up the baton he so ably carried into the national limelight and run the novel through another round of edits. Here’s my back-of-the-publisher’s-press-release list of necessary changes:
Send the manuscript through Spellcheck™. I mean, “sivilized”?! Come on. To be honest, I can’t even understand why people think this is such a great book, when Twain couldn’t even spell.
References to events in U.S. History tending toward anything other than a reverence for American Exceptionalism that Glenn Beck would approve: Deleted.
The sarcastic parts: Out.
Suggestions that Christians and businessmen have on occasion behaved in anything less than a fully Christ-like fashion: Cut.
“Harelip” is an insensitive term for people born with cleft lips. Henceforth, change every mention of “the Harelip” to “the pre-operative plastic surgery patient.”
This is America. No one around here knows what a “Dauphin” is and can’t be troubled to look it up on dictionary.com, and the name “The Dolphin” serves only to confuse. Replace “Dauphin” and “The Dolphin” with “The Pretender—Not Royalty at All, and Certainly Not a Marine Mammal.”
“Pap” is a disrespectful way to refer to Huck’s father. Replace “Pap” with “the esteemed Chairman of the local Tea Party.” (Seriously. Check out Pap’s soliloquy from Chapter VI, which Tim flagged for me way back last year.
Oh, yes, this is a wonderful govment, wonderful. Why, looky here. There was a free nigger SLAVE there from Ohio–a mulatter, most as white as a white man. He had the whitest shirt on you ever see, too, and the shiniest hat; and there ain’t a man in that town that’s got as fine clothes as what he had; and he had a gold watch and chain, and a silver-headed cane–the awfulest old gray-headed nabob in the State. And what do you think? They said he was a p’fessor in a college, and could talk all kinds of languages, and knowed everything. And that ain’t the wust. They said he could VOTE when he was at home. Well, that let me out. Thinks I, what is the country a-coming to? It was ‘lection day, and I was just about to go and vote myself if I warn’t too drunk to get there; but when they told me there was a State in this country where they’d let that nigger SLAVE vote, I drawed out. I says I’ll never vote agin.
Sound familiar? But I digress.)
Say what you want about these edits, but Professor Gribben had it right: it will surely be easier to assign our version to 21st-century students. Because our version will be eight pages long, and we’ll post all the answers to the test on the Internet.