New York — The controversy now brewing over an edition of “Huckleberry Finn” was first mentioned to me at least a decade ago. Some highly irritated black parents were protesting a public school district for using a book that contained many instances of what is now known as “the N-word.”
Now, the book has made more news because a publisher has printed a version for schools in which all instances of the N-word have been removed and replace with the word “slave.”
The dustup is another example of the ongoing confusions of American culture.
Twain, who knew that there is a stubborn prudishness that American artists frequently boot in the backside, would not be surprised at what is happening right now. The writer did not defend slavery, but depicted the period’s bigotry and made the moral center of the novel a white boy’s choice to help a slave escape from bondage.