“Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer Expelled: Censorship and the Classroom” (2017 essay)

“Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer Expelled: Censorship and the Classroom,” Critical Insights: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,  ed. R. Kent Rasmussen (Ipswich, MA: Salem Press, 2017), pp. 65-80.   Link to Critical Insights book

“Professor Gribben himself recounts, for the first time at length in print, the full story of the NewSouth editions. He also discusses the impact those editions are now having in schools and raises compelling questions about what really constitutes censorship. It is an essay that may change the opinions of many readers” (p. ix, editor’s preface).


 Cartoon from page 71 of Critical Insights

During the controversy in 2011 scores of cartoonists missed the point that translating the n-word into “slave” was a way to increase readership of the book in public schools and colleges, and instead slammed the NewSouth Edition as “sanitizing” Huckleberry Finn.  Cartoonist Jim Day of the Las Vegas Review Journal perceptively quoted Mark Twain’s definition of a classic as “a book which people praise and don’t read.” Objections to the racial slurs in Huckleberry Finn have removed the novel from the reading lists in many school districts and campus classrooms. 


Here are the links to each format of editions of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer published by NewSouth Books:

NewSouth Edition or Original Text Edition of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; 

NewSouth Edition or Original Text Edition of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer;

NewSouth Edition or Original Text Edition of both novels in a combined book, Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn;

and The Big Read Edition of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. 

All editions have original forewords by Alan Gribben.

In this brief video, the case is made that teachers should not be compelled to use the n-word in the classroom, that alternative texts are now available, and that whenever celebrities have used the n-word it has prompted public outrage.  “Bring Tom and Huck into the 21st Century”–VIDEO

This 2017 essay is the full story of “The Price of Fighting Censorship: Mark Twain Editions Today,” a paper that I presented at the Banned Books Week Conference at Lafayette College on October 4, 2012.