NewSouth Books, which has decided to edit-out the racial slurs which appear in Mark Twain literature, has responded to my blog post in the comments section:
We understand there are strong feelings about this; we feel strongly too about the sanctity of literature, and opposing censorship.
What is perhaps unclear in the article above is that this edition is not meant to pretend as though the offensive language doesn’t exist; rather there is a detailed introduction included in this volume that addresses the language, its historical context, and the ongoing debate in schools as to whether or not to teach Twain’s work because of the language. No reader can read this book without facing the question of including or excluding the language; this book is about the language question, not hiding from it.
If the publication sparks good debate about how language impacts learning and/or about the nature of censorship or the way racial slurs exercise their baneful influence, then our mission in publishing this new edition of Twain’s works will be more emphatically fulfilled. We encourage everyone to read an excerpt from Dr. Gribben’s introduction at http://www.newsouthbooks.com/twain. Thanks!
That brings up another question: If the publisher finds it acceptable to confront the language head-on, why not place the note in the front of the book and then leave the original text alone?
The publisher has apparently decided that instead of reading the original, classic Twain text, kids should be told something controversial exists and then read the watered-down, PC version. The publisher is still censuring the text rather than allowing students to read the original work and confront reality.
A note in the front of the book doesn’t change that.