Censorship

Ripping, Mixing, and Burning Twain

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Never forget!
Sterling

The forthcoming n-word-free edition of Huckleberry Finn sounds a bit like a book in my old elementary-school library called The Boys' Sherlock Holmes, which on close examination turned out to be a selection of Holmes stories with the cocaine removed. I agree with my colleague Michael Moynihan that the new Huck is a really dumb idea. I can't say I'm outraged that it exists, though. Bowdlerized editions of Twain are not new—you'll search in vain for a racial slur here, for example—and as long as they aren't misrepresented as unabridged editions, I think they're an acceptable byproduct when a book enters the public domain. Alan Gribben isn't a censor so much as he's a bad remix artist. If he had fashioned a book called Huck Finn and Zombies—or maybe a Garfield Minus Garfield–style prequel called Tom Sawyer Minus Huck, in which Finn turns out to be the Tyler Durden of Hannibal, Missouri—some of us would be cheering his creativity instead of complaining.

If there's something to fear here, it isn't Gribben's book, which with its initial print run of just 7,500 copies isn't likely to displace the original novel anytime soon. It's the possibility that a school will buy Gribben's inept reimagining of Twain for its library or assign it as the real thing. The most disturbing reaction to the Gribben story comes from The New York Times' Nicholas Kristof, who tweeted: "If censoring Huck Finn will help get a great book back on h.s. reading lists, isn't that worth it?" High school can kill great literature as efficiently as censorship does; working in tandem, who knows how much damage they can do?

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  1. How could they take out the word “nigger” yet leave in slavery? Truly, I’m appalled.

    The fact is that taking out the unpleasantness of racism and slavery guts the intent of the book, which is, of course, to attack racism and to promote the idea that group morality isn’t necessarily right. If the bad stuff gets weakened by the Thought Police, then the things Huck and Jim are rebelling against seem less compelling.

    It amazes me that people just see some unpleasant words and ignore the entire purpose of the book. Just the portrayal of Jim alone should be enough to show that Twain wasn’t some flaming racist.

    1. If you sanitize the language, haven’t you also sanitized the events? If you banish the word Nigger from this day forward, how are people born in the future supposed to have any understanding of what really happened? Isn’t that doing a tremendous disservice to the people who suffered?

      1. Child Product of Gutted Book: Really, what was so bad about slavery, anyway? Maybe we should try it again with debtors and immigrants.

      2. Up next: Schindler’s List without any violence or anti-Semitism.

        1. I could totally see not being able to show that movie to a high school class. First, it contains sex and violence. Second, it is disturbing. And third, Islmaic students will be offended by the implication that only Jews were victims of the “holocaust” whatever that was.

          We live in dark times.

          1. Oddly enough I was shown Mississippi Burning in 7th grade. It was a Catholic school (and in NY; I’d imagine geography might have an impact here), so I guess the teacher had a little leeway with the principal. I don’t remember anyone rallying for a new KKK, or an obsession with the word nigger after seeing the film. I guess props go to the teacher for believing we were mature enough to handle the movie, and for the teacher presenting it in a mature way.

          2. When I was in high school we watched a French documentary from the ’50s that consisted primarily of Nazi war footage showing Nazis doing things like mutilating dead bodies and the like.

            I think high schoolers are perfectly capable of handling Schindler’s List, which at least has the value of being staged.

        2. It would be Schindler’s list without the word “Jew”in it. They would be referred to as “The people who are not Aryan.”

    2. Nothing of value is lost by removing offensive words.

      Take, for example, this riddle:

      Q: What did Abraham Lincoln say after waking up from a three-day bender?

      A: “I freed the what?!!

    3. Actually, you might be able to argue that the word itself no longer means what it did when the book was written. A lot has changed since 1884. Leaving the word in unedited, or untranslated, if you will, does potentially drag in a whole lot of current baggage.

      Since Jim is still a runaway slave in the slave-owning South, the context isn’t lost. The book might be less off-putting, and more accessible this way.

      1. I would submit it actually didn’t have as strong a negative connotation, was less emotionally charged, then it does now.

  2. “If censoring Huck Finn will help get a great book back on h.s. reading lists, isn’t that worth it?”

    Wow. Maybe Kristof is on to something here. Lets see.

    I think all of those battle scenes and War and Peace are really graphic and disturbing. Lets just cut out Austerlitz and Borodino from the story.

    And the part where at the end of the Diary of Ann Frank that her family is arrested three days after her last entry, really makes people sad. So lets just pretend she was liberated instead.

    And there are some really disturbing and racist parts of To Kill A Mockingbird. Those need to go to. Maybe just cut out that whole nasty trial bit.

    If that is what it takes to get kids reading again, I say lets do it.

    1. And the part where at the end of the Diary of Ann Frank that her family is arrested three days after her last entry, really makes people sad. So lets just pretend she was liberated instead.

      A school textbook committee once recommended that Anne Frank not be used because it is — and I quote — “a real downer.”

      1. In some ways, I am not sure if you really get the holocaust at age 12. I remember reading it and not being as affected as I probably should have been. I think maybe that you should read it in high school rather than middle school, even though the reading level is not high school.

        And speaking of downers, clearly Old Yeller needs to live. .

        1. If it is true that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it, then we must not sanitize history, or language, or art…or any other manifestations of culture that cause either chaos or harmony.

          This is no better than the destruction of genitalia and breasts on classical Greek/Roman statuary by Christian rulers. By removing the penis, you remove the desire for sex! Hooray! We’ve cleansed our society of unhealthy sexual proclivities. Carry on.

          1. “This is no better than the destruction of genitalia and breasts on classical Greek/Roman statuary by Christian rulers.”

            I made this comparison yesterday. And this is exactly the same thing. I will say one thing in defense of Christian rulers. They were honestly trying to destroy Pagan culture. These clowns are not even that honest. They think they are preserving culture.

      2. @Jesse – wow. I remember reading that in HS. Yep, it was “a downer”, and one of the most-impactful things I’ve ever read. Cause it’s REAL.

        Lulz and a big “fuck you!” to that school textbook ocmmittee!

        1. +1 for appreciation of good theater.

          -1 for use of “impactful”.

          1. Sorry – I’ll try harder next time!

            1. No need to try harder. The +1 and the -1 cancel each other out, so you are right where you started

              1. But that would be a fail.

      3. Just read the graphic novel version where, during the arrest, Anne manifests her latent mutant superpowers and takes down the Third Reich along side Tom Strong.

    2. “And the part where at the end of the Diary of Ann Frank that her family is arrested three days after her last entry, really makes people sad. So lets just pretend she was liberated instead.”

      Although we respect the author’s vision, using the book’s original ending in our movie played very poorly with focus groups, so we reworked it to end on a happier note. I’m sure some diehard fans will be upset, but I hope the broader audience appreciates our solution to the finale.

      1. Why didn’t you guys show the scourging of the Shire!?!

        1. That movie already drags on 45 minutes after the climactic scene.

          1. TBS, I preferred the version where Frodo gave Sam the Ring and pushed him into the lava.

            1. You should read the National Lampoon parody Bored of the Rings. It was written in the late 60’s, so a lot of the hippie jokes haven’t aged well, but it’s still pretty good.

              1. Bored of The Rings was actually what inspired me to read LOTR. I read Bored of the Rings first, LOTR next and The Hobbit last.

                My ‘version’ above was actually inspired by BOTR, with a slight alteration.

                1. Wish someone would do a film version of that Harvard Lampoon classic. Followed, of course, by a film version of Doon.

      2. final solution

        1. Wow, I see your point. It looks like I almost made a terrible, insensitive gaffe! I really dodged an oven there. Bullet! Dodged a bullet!

          Fuck me, I need to spend less time around Mel.

          1. Whoops.

    3. They should rewrite it from Jim’s perspective – make it less Eurocentric. And make Jim a woman while they’re at it. That’d be less masculinist. Maybe a lesbian as well to cut down on the heteronormative elements.

      The Adventures of Slavelady Jill and Her Life Partner.

      1. The sad thing is….I would actually read this.

        1. I saw that on Cinemax in the late 90’s. Not as good as the title would suggest.

  3. In my yoot I read Robinson Crusoe. I think I even did a book report on it.

    Then years later I found out the original was probably 4 times longer than the version I read; what was missing I have no idea, but I hear he eventually went to Mars.

    1. Same thing with Gulliver’s Travels. Lilliput part is only 1/4th, IIRC, of the book. I wonder if the recent movie covers anything else?

      Ive never read the whole thing but I hear the other parts suck.

      1. Yes, I’m sure the Jack Black version of Gulliver’s Travels will be faithful to the full novel.

        😛

        1. We made sure to preserve the spirit of biting social and political satire. Kids eat that shit up.

      2. “Suck” is too strong. It’s sometimes hard to tell what target Swift is going after, and that makes the book far less interesting, because unlike Lilliput, the lands aren’t interesting in and of themselves.

        I thought the Houyhnhnms part was decent, at least. However, the betterment of human hygiene over the past couple centuries pretty much destroys the joke.

        1. You don’t think Laputa is interesting in and of itself?

          1. Good point. I should re-read it when I get the chance.

            1. Is Jesse dressed like a bus driver? ‘Cause you just got took to school!

          2. La Puta – the whore.

          3. Laputa is great. It should be required reading for anyone working at a research institution, if only for the parts about creating new foodstuffs from human excrement or ‘working to distill moonbeams from cucumbers’.

        2. The Voyage to Brobdingnag is worth reading if only for the sentence:

          “And he gave it for his . opinion . . . that whoever could make two ears of corn, or two blades of grass, to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together.”

  4. The n-word is scientifically proven to make people racist when they read it. What good is Huck Finn’s “message” when it makes kids racist?

  5. This reminds me of the reverence shown for the “word of god” by copyists who gave us the sacred scriptures which certain members of our society like to thump.

    1. David, respectfully, the translations of the various scriptures from one language to another, and the resultant thumpings, are a bit different than the Plain Ole ‘murcan English? text of Twain being….just CHANGED. In front of God and EVERYONE….;)

    2. Or the even greater respect shown by members of other societies that don’t even allow translations of certain similar books — of course, the “thumping” in question is usually the sound of bullets hitting the blasphemer.

    3. OMG. Not a religion thread.

      Please.

      Not so soon after Festivus.

  6. They weren’t slaves, they were servants.

    1. They weren’t servants, they were domestic workers.

      1. And unionized. The trip down the river was a strike and a rebellion against bourgeois ideals.

  7. High school can kill great literature as efficiently as censorship does; working in tandem, who knows how much damage they can do?

    And yet genuine literary abortions like The Grapes of Wrath and A Tale of Two Cities are widely proclaimed as must-reads for high school students. I don’t care how many times you say it, the water doesn’t have to represent the revolution, Mrs. Garand!! (I got detention for arguing the pragmatic side of authors, i.e. maybe they just write to make some money and couldn’t care less about some symbolism an English teacher 150 years later claims exists.) And that damn turtle in Grapes… and I like turtles!

    Just give kids a list of 20-30 books and let them choose what they want. And if they choose nothing, fuck ’em. Stop caring about “teh children”; they are a lost cause.

    1. Hey, I like A Tale of Two Cities.

      1. Well what did you think about Things Fall Apart, another literary “masterpiece” that I was forced (by way of read this or get an F) to read in 10th grade.

        I’m not even saying I was lost in the world of sci-fi or fantasy; I wrote a paper in 11th grade on Nietzschian supermen and how it relates to Call of the Wild. But I also accept that mine is not the only explanation for that book, something most English teachers I’ve ever had would disagree with (about their own crackpot theories and symbolism).

        Literature should breed discussion, not be something that becomes rote and easily testable material. If that’s too hard for kids these days then stop passing them through the system. Let them fall by the wayside.

        1. I actually liked Things Fall Apart. I agree that it’s overrated, but for me it was an easy read.

        2. My english teachers in high school were sort of awesome. If you said symbolism in any context in an answer you were forced to leave the classroom. But for private schools I would not be as I am.

        1. Your URL contained a malformed video ID.

      2. It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times.

        1. Stupid monkey!

      3. Let me just state this uncategorically: Fuck Dickens. Fuck him in the ear with a big rubber dick. He was a hack that was paid by the word, and it shows in everything he ever wrote.

        1. Dickens had a unique ability to make interesting plots and characters boring as hell.

      4. I like the Wishbone version of “A Tale of Two Cities”

    2. Generic, why do you hate teh children?

      Also, for me, it was “A Separate Peace”. WHAT a piece of drivel. Awful. My best friend and I wrote a parody of it our Junior year of HS. It was hilARious – although we got a “B”. Junior-year English teachers NEVER recognize great art….

      We did get an “A” for our parodies of Hemingway and “Othello” our Senior year. Senior-year teachers are more discerning, apparently.

      1. PS “and I like turtles!” = lulz!

      2. Generic, why do you hate teh children?

        I think I’m just on a bender today. I work at a university, and with classes starting next week we still have students coming in asking for overrides into courses. I’m just tired of kids not being asked to shoulder any responsibilty throughout their upbringing. They skate through primary school because teachers can’t “bear to see them fail another year” and they never really learn a solid work ethic… I don’t care what a kid grows up to do, as long as they do it well. That’s the sort of thing Obama should be encouraging; not that every kid has a “right to go to college”.

      3. Ugh, A Separate Peace is the piece of crap I think of whenever I hear about assigned readings.

        1. I though it a rather moving portrait of the grief that comes from killing your gay lover through negligent homicide.

          1. A Separate Peace

            I escaped that one. Our teacher gave us Lord of the Flies instead. I’ve never read A Separate Peace, but from everything I hear, it sounds like we got a better deal by an order of magnitude.

            1. We read both. Three of us started chanting “Piggy” in low tones during the class discussion.

              At least we went to high school before the all Toni Morrison, all the time era.

      4. For me, it was always Pride and Prejudice.

        I love Dickens, I love Twain, I love Tolstoy…..I fucking HATE Jane Austen. If I had a time machine, I would go back to when she was first writing and cut off her hands.

    3. Oh how I hated that goddamn turtle.

    4. I liked the inter chapters in Grapes. I hated the fucking Jodes.

      1. The whole book was nails on a chalkboard for me.

        In 12th grade English we were supposed to read Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and I was pretty “stoked” about that. But our teacher fell and broke her arm–she was overweight and older–and was going to miss the rest of the year. So because our substitute couldn’t find any quizzes for Dracula–God forbid a substitute hired for the rest of the year try to create any on her own–she made us read Frankenstein because tests were already available for that book.

        Damn you Mary Shelley! The monster is society, I get it!

        1. Dracula is an entertaining read, but, uh…it’s not really very deep; one could choose to draw some sort of moral from it, I suppose, but I really don’t think Stoker intended there to be one. There’s much more literary and metaphorical value in Frankenstein.

          1. That’s what I’m saying. I like reading for reading’s sake. Things that don’t have an obvious allegory or metaphor are better because they are much more open to interpretation. Therefore, Dracula would have been a much better read than Frankenstein because I can read it and become enveloped in it without some overreaching metaphor always resting on the top.

            I might have actually enjoyed A Tale of Two Cities (what with the beheadings and rioting) if my teacher didn’t keep insisting that every instance of water was indicative of the French Revolution. Let me read a book and formulate my own opinions; that’s what literature should be about.

            Of course the author may have their own point to get across, but it is the author that does that most subtly who is truly a great writer.

            1. My point is that Dracula doesn’t lend itself very well to class discussion, or quizzes or essays or whatever. It’s entertaining but there’s not a lot to learn from it, and learning is ostensibly what school is for. Makes more sense for you to read it on your own.

              1. Dracula can be viewed as a negative, Victorian view of sexuality.

                Of course, that’s probably more of a college level discussion than high school.

                1. I’ve mentioned this before, but I recommend Fred Saberhagen’s The Dracula Tape to anyone who has read Stoker’s book. It’s the same story told in the first person by the Count.

                  1. The Dracula Tapes is a pretty amazing book!

                    1. I mentioned in a thread yesterday that I’m encouraging my eldest son to read the book.

                2. He worked as a theatre manager in London-a very sexually liberated part of society.

                3. It can also be read as a critique of Old Europe, with Dracula representing decaying monarchies; note that all the (sane) heroes are English or American.

                4. Dracula can be viewed as a negative, Victorian view of sexuality.

                  It can, yes, but I have a pretty strong feeling that Stoker didn’t really intend that. Or any other meaning. I think he just wanted to write a horror novel about a guy who sucked blood and made women into slaves.

                  1. In other words, the feel-good story of 1897.

    5. Communist drivel or not, I loved The Grapes of Wrath. I had to read Babbitt in high school. Now that’s a literary abortion.

      1. Try the works of Theodore Drieser. “Must reads” in my American Lit course.

        1. I always confuse him with Dr. Seuss.

        2. He wrote that book about Scott Peterson though, so there’s that.

      2. I had to read Babbitt in high school.

        I would think the autobiography of a Texas woman who drowned her kids would be pretty interesting.

      3. Really? I liked Babbitt, probably because it is nice to know that in 80 years people are still pretty much the same.

  8. How about if they change the word “nigger” to “cracker” instead? “….her Cracker Jim….”

    I, personally, like that better than substituting “slave” (with the usual disclaimer that “I don’t think they should substitute anything for anything else, but if they’re going to then I would prefer…etc.etc.etc.”).

    “Cracker”. That would work, right?

    1. Fine with me.

      I love it when people try to turn it around and say, Well, how about cracker or honkey?! How do you like that?”

      Newsflash: white people don’t give a shit.

      1. I actually get offended by being called white boy. No one says honky.

        1. Even if you’re playing that funky music?

          1. That’s my one exception. Well, that and when other white boys call me white boy.

  9. Wow- I’ve never seen the version of Huck Finn starring Alfred E Newman.

    *rushes off to call Netflix*

    1. Wait til you see the version with Wesley Snipes in the title role.

  10. YOU don’t know fuck about me without you have read a ass-kicking book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no fuckin’ matter. That book was made by that faggot Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the fuckin’ truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched like a big old horse cock, 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 that bitch Mary, and the whore Widow Douglas is all told about in that book, which is mostly a true book, with some stretchers, as I said before, asshole.

    1. 7/10, not bad.

  11. “If censoring Huck Finn will help get a great book back on h.s. reading lists, isn’t that worth it?”

    Choke on a donkey dick, Kristoff.

  12. “Jiggers, boys! Here comes First American Joe. We better skedaddle!”

  13. I’m certainly not offended. The problem of trying to teach the unabridged text to an actual 2011 class of middle school students is very real. It takes a pretty strong teacher to get the students to focus on something other than the opportunity to break a very strong taboo. This may not be the way to do it, but maybe it will work. Telling the students that, “we are going to be reading the CENSORED version” may make the unabridged version very attractive.

    1. Call the waaaaambulance, there’s an English teacher who has to actually do some work.

      1. If they wanted to work, they wouldn’t have English degrees.

        If they weren’t functionally retarded, they wouldn’t have education degrees.

    2. You know, screw that. If I taught English, I’d assign the unabridged version of The Count of Monte Cristo, which is a great novel. If I’m in a good mood, I’ll assign a translated version.

  14. They weren’t slaves, they were servants pets .

    What’s the big deal?

    1. I know. Some people pay good money for that. 🙂

  15. Baby was a black sheep. Baby was a whore.
    Baby got big and baby get bigger.
    Baby get something. Baby get more.
    Baby, baby, baby was a rock-and-roll slave.
    Oh, look around you, all around you,
    riding on a copper wave.
    Do you like the world around you?
    Are you ready to behave?

    Outside of society, they’re waitin’ for me.
    Outside of society, that’s where I want to be.

    (Lenny!)

    Baby was a black sheep. Baby was a whore.
    You know she got big. Well, she’s gonna get bigger.
    Baby got a hand; got a finger on the trigger.
    Baby, baby, baby is a rock-and-roll slave.

    Outside of society, that’s where I want to be.
    Outside of society, they’re waitin’ for me.

    (those who have suffered, understand suffering,
    and thereby extend their hand
    the storm that brings harm
    also makes fertile
    blessed is the grass
    and herb and the true thorn and light)

    I was lost in a valley of pleasure.
    I was lost in the infinite sea.
    I was lost, and measure for measure,
    love spewed from the heart of me.
    I was lost, and the cost,
    and the cost didn’t matter to me.
    I was lost, and the cost
    was to be outside society.

    Jimi Hendrix was a slave.
    Jesus Christ and Grandma, too.
    Jackson Pollock was a slave.
    slave, slave, slave, slave,
    slave, slave, slave.

    Outside of society, they’re waitin’ for me.
    Outside of society, if you’re looking,
    that’s where you’ll find me.
    Outside of society, they’re waitin’ for me.
    Outside of society. (Repeat)

  16. Speaking of high school reading list perrennials: The Red Badge of Courage.

    I somehow managed to not read that until I was in college, and I (honest First American!) thought it was one of the funniest books I had ever read.

    1. I read that piece of shit in 8th grade and then wrote a book report about how it was garbage and bad literature. My teacher was horrified.

  17. In junior high we were assigned to read some condensed version of 1984 in some sort of magazine the schools got. I didn’t bother because my parents already let me read the novel on my own in the 6th grade.

    Yeah, I had awesome parents. While other kids my age were still watching the Electric Company I was growing up with James Bond and kung fu flicks. I knew how to seduce sultry Russian double agents and three ways to break a man’s spine by age 12.

    When we got quizzed on it, the questions made no sense because it turns out the condensed version was some sort of watered down hog’s pizzle. For example, in the safe school version, Winston and Juila are not having a sexual affair. They are sitting around reading some subversive book to one another. D’oh!

    So I failed the test, but my mom called the teacher and explained the situation, and got a pass for that one.

    1. That is just sad.

      1. Yeah. Wait, do you mean the watered down 1984 or my espionage and martial arts choreography filled childhood?

    2. I’m extremely surprised they gave you a pass. The school system is more about learning obedience and conformity than anything else these days.

      1. “These days”? It was never about anything else, you vile pool of pig jism.

        1. Wait, does this imply a non-vile pool of pig jism?

          1. Some pig jism just gets up everyday, marches down the pork urethra, and makes the world a better place by makin’ more bacon, thank you very much.

            1. So Warty is referring to unemployed pig jism? Or is it union pig jism that gets up every morning and eats donuts instead of impregnating the sows?

              1. “Oh, union pig jizz… so lazy and surly…”

      2. This was back in the late 1970s.

    3. The junior high version of me would have relished the opportunity to upbraid the teacher openly in front of the class, and then produce the real text during the disciplinary meeting with my parents which would have followed.

      “I’ll have you know that this will go down on your permanent record.”

      “Yeah, well, why else do you think I did it?”

    4. In junior high we were assigned to read some condensed version of 1984…

      They fucking censored 1984? Wow. Assholes.

      1. Did they use Fahrenheit 451 as fuel for the school furnace?

        1. On the evening of this last Christmas Day I went down to the Spooky Club and had a drink. Instead of a usual movie, the DJ was playing some video that consisted of nothing but a fireplace with some burning logs– holiday atmosphere, I thought. Until a hand reached into the scene and placed a copy of Fahrenheit 451 on top of the logs, and you just watched it burn.

          Laughed my ass off. I’ll have to ask her where she got that video.

  18. “If censoring Huck Finn will help get a great book back on h.s. reading lists, isn’t that worth it?”

    I gotta say no. But that’s because I don’t think Huck Finn is a very good novel, aside from the stuff dealing with Jim.

    1. It’s a friggin’ brilliant novel. Shall we say Kindles at dawn?

      I downloaded all of Twain onto my new Kindle. That’s pretty cool, though, of course, it’s been available on the web for a while.

      1. See, I just find it frustrating. Most of the characters are so incredibly stupid that their thought processes make no sense at all. They seem to actively desire to make everything in their lives more difficult than it needs to be. I understand this is supposed to be funny. I just don’t find it amusing.

        1. Racist!

  19. wouldn’t it be cheaper just to teach the cliff notes.

  20. wouldn’t it be cheaper just to teach the cliff notes.

    Illustrated Classics, baby.

  21. Oops- I think it was Classics Illustrated.

  22. Two wrongs, do not make a right

  23. In 12th grade I had to read The Mayor of Casterbridge. 23 years later it still haunts me with its suckitude.

    1. Leave Thomas Hardy alone!! You philistine!!

      1. Thomas Hardy wrote some OK stuff and Jude is great, but that one SUUUUUUUCKS. I rather cheerfully read most of by high school books, but that one was like taking a beating.

        Luckily, that teacher left after Christmas and the next one was hot and had much better taste.

        1. I have actually never read that one. But I have read Jude and Far From the Madding Crowd and liked both of them a lot. But, I really like 19th Century England.

  24. Thirty years later for me and I still get night sweats over that one.

    But the worst for me was Last of the Fracking Mohicans. Good god, I almost tore my eyes out from boredom trying to read that

    1. Twain hated Cooper’s books.

        1. Yep, that’s it.

  25. Dickens had a unique ability to make interesting plots and characters boring as hell.

  26. Did anyone else notice that in this years showing of “Holiday Inn” they cut out the black face number?

  27. That was supposed to be:

    Dickens had a unique ability to make interesting plots and characters boring as hell.

    I used to like to say, “Hemingway wrote good stories badly. Very badly.”

  28. I think he should have worked it into the story: For most other characters, the censoring is done blazing saddles style — people still technically use the n-word, but something always interrupts them or drowns it out.

    But Huck always uses PC bullshit terminology and everyone thinks something is wrong with him (including himself, since he intended to say something else). And at the end of the book he finds out that a chip has been implanted in the base of his neck to control him and manages to get it out. And the kids would learn something about asshole PC shitclowns.

  29. It is very satisfying to see both Dickens and “A Separate Peace” called out for their sucktitude here. I didn’t hate the Red Badge of Courage. I didn’t like it, but I didn’t hate it. Grapes of Wrath didn’t really bother me either. Of course I can’t remember if I actually read these or just the cliff notes, but oh well. I definitely read the acutal book for A Separate Peace (of shit), and man that is really a horrible thing to inflict on a 7th grader.

  30. Next up, Shakespeare will be rewritten in haiku so that it is easier to read and may find its way into more high school summer reading lists.

    BTW wtf happened to summer/break reading lists for high school and college?

    1. Teachers wised up that the kids weren’t reading anything on the lists.

  31. I’m surprised that today’s schools would even allow kids to read Huckleberry Finn, even a cleaned-up version. Huck thinks for himself. How will children learn slavish obedience to the collective reading such things?

  32. Huck thinks for himself.

    Excellent point; and he SKIPS SCHOOL TO DO AS HE PLEASES.

    Burn this book!

  33. I once read an illustrated comic (it wasn’t Classics Illustrated) version of Huck Finn that managed to turn Pap Finn into a hero. Seriously — he rode in on a steamboat at the end and saved Jim. And they had the gall to peddle that travesty to children as being Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.

  34. Oh how I hated that goddamn turtle.

    This would be so awesome on a gravestone.

  35. “If censoring Huck Finn will help get a great book back on h.s. reading lists, isn’t that worth it?”

    I say again, the author must destroy literature to save it.

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