To combat this, Publishers Weekly reports that NewSouth is releasing the novel without the racial epithet. The issue has folks predictably divided, with literary purists frustrated and parents applauding the effort.
Twain scholar Alan Gribben, who worked on the NewSouth on the new version, tells Publishers Weekly that it had to be done. “This is not an effort to render Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn colorblind,” says Gribben. “Race matters in these books. It’s a matter of how you express that in the 21st century.”
So, just so we’re on the same page… the classic, which carries a message of friendship and overcoming racism, is only suitable for a 21st century audience if the racist parts are gone.
We suppose any effort to get more children to read Twain is a noble one, but don’t they remember the last time somebody tried to de-“n”-word “Huck Finn?” Disney’s 1993 film adaptation, while an adorable showcase for a pocket-sized Elijah Wood in the titular role, was not exactly a thoughtful satire of the pre-Civil War South.