Monday, September 29, 2008

Banned Book Week

I just knew that there was something special about today, it's the beginning of the American Library Association's Banned Book Week! So, in honor of an oldie but a goodie, I'm highlighting "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", one of the most challenged books of 2007. First published in the US in 1885, it's caused controversy since the outset with some communities and their libraries. Notably banned at the time in the Concord, MA library, Twain, never the shrinking violet, famously commented to his editor, "Apparently, the Concord library has condemned Huck as 'trash and only suitable for the slums.' This should sell us another five thousand copies for sure!"
So, what's all the fuss about? Namely the character of Jim and his minstrel-esque portrayal, the lavish use of the N-word, and whether the book is racist or anti-racist. There are strong arguments on both sides of the aisle on this one. The thing is, you can never truly know someone's intent. What did Twain actually intend with Jim? I can't answer that. No one can. Ultimately, it's a conundrum. Which, considering what a smartass Twain was, doesn't surprise me in the least.
I'm against banning books. We're all grown ups, aren't we? Fahrenheit 451 is always right around the corner, is it not?

4 comments:

Pandora said...

Just talked my girl and the child into watching "Mark Twain Tonight," Hal Holbrook's tour de force.

One of the sections was made from pieces of Huckleberry Finn, and included the part wherein Huck, having previously decided to turn Jim in, finds he can't, and then decides to go to hell instead, cause even though he knows it's wrong of him not to turn Jim in, he just can't do it. Just can't.

Excellent piece of the book.

Natazzz said...

It's stupid.

Sometimes simple is best...

H said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
H said...

Ooooo...
Banned Books!
They're some of my favorites!
;-)

As for Twain's "...Huckleberry Finn," the fact that it IS controversial is what makes it desirable for use in the classroom, since the debate could lead to some great discussion.

Although Huck uses the "n-word"...he treats Jim as a friend...not a slave.

Even today, young people say things such as "that's so gay"...and do not realize that it is derogatory. Wouldn't that be a great way to introduce the topic?