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A long overdue read of a classic
on 13 January 2011
It is interesting that my reading of Mark Twain's classic stories has coincided with a literary argument about a newly published version that has censored some of the terms that are not politically correct in the modern world (I should emphasise that this is the original version with the naughty words). I am sure opinion is divided about such a move, but I cannot help but feel that such words, incorrect as they are now considered, should not be removed from masterpieces that were written so long ago. Many students have grown up on a diet of compulsory books that were poured over at school, of which Mark Twain's often featured, and surely the debate over slavery and racist terminology is one that everybody should be exposed to.
Of course, this aspect is a minor part of a collection of stories that paint an endearing picture of mid 19th century smalltown USA. Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn are a mischievous pair, always thinking up new games and having the kind of childhood that many an adult would wish to have copied. The book gives a real insight into how their community functioned, the spirit that bound it together and the rules upon which it was built. The language used is, by Twain's own admission, his take on the many dialects from the Mississippi basin, and whilst it does not always flow as smoothly as modern English, it is easy to understand. It is not for me to pass judgement on the quality of the books, there are many people who are far more qualified than me to do that, but the stories are simple, beautifully written and draw the reader into a world that we have left behind.
I never read this at school, but wish that I had.