According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, a Wynnewood suburban county high school program has taken action on their decision to remove Mark Twain’s book, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from their curriculum, due to the offensive language in the book, which according to the principal, Art Hall, makes some of the school’s students feel uncomfortable.
“We have all come to the conclusion that the community costs of reading this book in 11th grade outweigh the literary benefits.”
The high school program is part of the all-inclusive format for the private school, Friends’ Central of Lower Merion Township, an area which was founded and established in 1713 where the grade levels are from nursery to the 12th grade.
The school operates under a Quaker philosophy which goes back in the area as far back as 1682. The school itself was not founded until 1845, and according to its website, they practice Quaker values.
The decision to ban the book falls almost on the same date that the book was originally published — as written by History, which was already controversial for other reasons at the time.
But this is not the first time Mark Twain’s books have been targeted, for the author himself has faced controversy since the book was first published.
In 2011, the Inquisitr published an op-ed about having the “n-word” changed to “slave,” which caused a stir among scholars and advocates against censorship.
In the original source of this story, one deputy director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, Deborah Caldwell-Stone, confirmed this, and is one who has even been active in holding talks about these situations at public libraries.
Here she is at one press conference for another book being incorporated for public high schools in Chicago.
Racial issues have been getting a lot of coverage from the media this year alone, such as in the case where high school students from Berkeley high who complained about racial injustice got the support of their administration to march, which the Inquisitr also covered in November.
Other similar cases where students have taken it upon themselves to protest against racism, specifically at some universities, have also been widely reported.
Even though the author has been dead for 105 years, he is still very much at the center of controversy such as in yet another report by the Inquisitr published last year over the rejection of a bid to name a cove after Twain due to his well-documented racists beliefs against Native Americans.
In the same year that it was announced that the wording in the book would be changed, The News-Herald published an article which had two contributors debate over the various forms of censorship on the book from high schools.
The writers of the piece stated that even prominent black leaders were against such changes and in another part of the article, the writers debated over the suggestion that the book should be kept for college-level study instead.
“But Twain knew what he was doing when he used that loathsome N-word. He understood the greatest art and literature doesn’t coddle. It challenges. Teachers say they often struggle to teach the book because of Twain’s language. Which is all the more reason why ‘Huckleberry Finn’ should be taught early and often — not bowdlerized and banished to college lecture halls.”
In the same article, it is stated that in 1905, the Brooklyn Public Library had the book removed from their children’s section, saying that it presented bad examples of ingenuous youth.
But according to Stuart Murray’s book, The Library: An Illustrated History, Asa Don Dickinson, who was a librarian at Brooklyn College in the same year, asked Mark Twain to answer for the slander of the book, and he did.
“I am greatly troubled by what you say. I wrote Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn for adults exclusively, and it always distressed me when I find that boys and girls have been allowed access to them. The mind that becomes soiled in youth can never again be washed clean.”
The issue with the quote is further debated in an article in the Christian Science Monitor, also published when the referred to changes to the book for high schools was taking place in 2011.
[Featured image by New York Public Library is under public domain/Wikipedia]