Last week it was announced that a new edition of Huckleberry Finn would be published with all the "N-words" replaced with the word slave. This news was followed by the announcement of a new hipster edition of Mark Twain's classic, which replaces all of the "N-words" with "H-words." (Subsequent versions may also replace "Injun" with "Eurotrash.") In an interview with Speakeasy, Mark Twain scholar Robert Hirst, the Official Curator of the Mark Twain Project at the University of California, Berkeley, explains how stupid all this is.
I think [the N-word in Huckleberry Finn] is very important. When Pat Finn, in his drunken tirade about meeting a “nigger” who could vote and was educated, the whole strength of that depends on feeling how bigoted Pat Finn is. If you soften his words, you’re not helping the point. I teach Twain once a year and I tell my students, I’m not going to euphemize this word. I’m not going to say N-word. You’ve totally destroyed the music of it and the point of it. [Twain] is well aware of the uneasiness this would cause. He lets Huck use this word exclusively. The uniformity of it shows you that he doesn’t want the pressure to be let up.
When asked if "this been the talk of your colleagues all week?" Hirst replied, "Oh, god. It’s been all over the Mark Twain forum." For more on this Twainwreck, we turn to the Mark Twain Forum, where one commenter opines argues that this new edition doesn't go nearly far enough: "Having gone through the exercise, I wonder why the new edition of AHF perpetuates the stereotype of the drunken Irishman so prevalent in Twain's time and ours. Why not rename Pap and the boy Smith? Or Blankenship? The Adventures of Huckleberry Smith. Has a nice, vanilla ring to it."