MONTGOMERY, AL - A new edition of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, forthcoming from NewSouth Books in mid-February, does more than unite the companion boy books in one volume, as the author had intended. It does more even than restore a passage from the Huckleberry Finn manuscript that first appeared in Twain’s Life on the Mississippi and was subsequently cut from the work upon publication.
In a bold move compassionately advocated by Twain scholar Dr. Alan Gribben and embraced by NewSouth, Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn also replaces two hurtful epithets that appear hundreds of times in the texts with less offensive words, this intended to counter the “preemptive censorship” that Dr. Gribben observes has caused these important works of literature to fall off curriculum lists nationwide.
In presenting his rationale for publication, eloquently developed in the book’s introduction, Dr. Gribben discusses the context of the racial slurs Twain used in these books. He also remarks on the irony of the fact that use of such language has caused Twain’s books to join the ranks of outdated literary classics Twain once humorously defined as works “which people praise and don’t read.”
NewSouth saw the value in an edition that would help the works find new readers. If the publication sparks good debate about how language impacts learning or about the nature of censorship or the way in which racial slurs exercise their baneful influence, then their mission in publishing this new edition of Twain’s works will be more emphatically fulfilled.
About NewSouth Books
NewSouth, Inc., is an Alabama-based book publishing company co-owned by partners Randall Williams and Suzanne La Rosa. NewSouth’s roots go back to 1984, when Williams proposed to a few other writers a concept for a cooperative that would be called the Black Belt Communications Group. In 1986, BBCG came into being as a publisher of magazines, newspapers, and newsletters. In 1989, BBCG, Inc., began publishing books under the Black Belt Press imprint. By 1996, Black Belt Press was the state’s leading independent publisher of Southern fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and folklore. In 1998, Williams recruited publishing veteran Suzanne La Rosa, who joined Black Belt Press as publisher.