Christopher Corbett, English, on

Warren Belasco, American StudiesA new edition of Mark Twain’s classic book, “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” seeks to avoid potentially offending readers with the original language by replacing offensive words with less-offensive counterparts.

But Christopher Corbett, professor of the practice of English, whose research into the Old West has included readings of Twain’s work, argues that Mark Twain’s language comes not from an intention to offend, but from the common dialect of the time. In fact, he says, Twain defended disadvantaged minorities. “When no one spoke on behalf of the defenseless Chinese on the frontier, Twain did. I think that if you had only one person speak in your defense you could not do better than Mark Twain,” Corbett says.

The story, “Area Literati Decry the Sanitizing of ‘Huck Finn’,” appeared on on January 7.


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