Twain Corrected

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: 125th Anniversary Edition (Mark Twain Library)Thank God they finally got around to taking ‘nigger’ out of Huckleberry Finn,(and curses to every commentator who wimped out and said “they have taken the ‘N-word’ out) and replacing ‘Injun’ with Indian (hmmm, why not Native American? Someone should look into it) It’s good that this story is taken out of its historical context, great that by replacing ‘nigger’ (a word I heard an average of 876.345 times a day, every day for four and one half years) and stripped away the dichotomy of Huck calling Jim ‘nigger Jim’ (someone wrote that it occurs 279 times, they have too much time on their hands) while Jim is his friend and the most humane charactor in the book – – – imagine that, a book written in 1883, by a man born in the South, that portrays a young white boy with a black friend in what today would be a ‘road movie’ (how many ‘road movies’ in the last 25 years have been interracial — Road Hogs does not count).

No one should be shocked or surprised, of course, not when the head of the RNC says that his favorite book is War and Peace, regales the room with its opening lines: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …” At least he didn’t say “Call me Ishmael”.


Well, 21st Century sensibilities have been assuaged (catered to? wimped out? sacrificed to the PC gods?), I can only hope that they’ve corrected the language and composition, lest high school students are traumatized by the grammar or, horrors, emulate it. My suggestions for cleaning up the opening paragraphs, note the much needed changes from the original below.

Unless you read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer you do not know about me, but that is no matter. That book was written by Mr. Mark Twain, and he mostly told the truth. He stretched some things, but mainly he told the truth. That is all right. I have never met anybody who did not lie at one time or another except Aunt Polly, or, perhaps, the widow and, maybe, Mary. Aunt Polly — she is Tom’s mother’s sister — Mary, and the Widow Douglas are discussed in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, as I said before is mostly a true book, with some ‘stretches’. Now the way that book ends is this: Tom and I found the money the robbers hid in the cave and it made us rich. We received six thousand dollars each in gold. It was a lot of money when we piled it up. Judge Thatcher invested it and we cleared a dollar a day — more than enough for a boy. The Widow Douglas adopted me, and began my education, for which I was thankful – – – it allowed me to write this book. It was hard living in her house, though she was too boring and decent so I left. I put on my old clothes and hat, and felt free again. Then Tom Sawyer found me, said he was going to start a band of robbers, and I  could join if I would go back to the widow and be respectable. So I went back.

The widow cried, called me a poor lost lamb, and a lot of other names that I cannot relate without offending, but she meant no harm by it. She gave me new clothes again, which made me sweat and sweat, and feel all cramped up. Then the old routine started again. The widow rang a bell for supper, and I had to be on time. When I got to the table I had to wait for the widow to tuck down her head and pray over the meal, before I could take a bite.

The Poorly written original:

YOU don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth. That is nothing. I never seen anybody but lied one time or another, without it was Aunt Polly, or the widow, or maybe Mary. Aunt Polly — Tom’s Aunt Polly, she is — and Mary, and the Widow Douglas is all told about in that book, which is mostly a true book, with some stretchers, as I said before.

Now the way that the book winds up is this: Tom and me found the money that the robbers hid in the cave, and it made us rich. We got six thousand dollars apiece — all gold. It was an awful sight of money when it was piled up. Well, Judge Thatcher he took it and put it out at interest, and it fetched us a dollar a day apiece all the year round — more than a body could tell what to do with. The Widow Douglas she took me for her son, and allowed she would sivilize me; but it was rough living in the house all the time, considering how dismal regular and decent the widow was in all her ways; and so when I couldn’t stand it no longer I lit out. I got into my old rags and my sugar-hogshead again, and was free and satisfied. But Tom Sawyer he hunted me up and said he was going to start a band of robbers, and I might join if I would go back to the widow and be respectable. So I went back.


The widow she cried over me, and called me a poor lost lamb, and she called me a lot of other names, too, but she never meant no harm by it. She put me in them new clothes again, and I couldn’t do nothing but sweat and sweat, and feel all cramped up. Well, then, the old thing commenced again. The widow rung a bell for supper, and you had to come to time. When you got to the table you couldn’t go right to eating, but you had to wait for the widow to tuck down her head and grumble a little over the victuals, though there warn’t really anything the matter with them, — that is, nothing only everything was cooked by itself. In a barrel of odds and ends it is different; things get mixed up, and the juice kind of swaps around, and the things go better.

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