Barrie's Summy October Book Review which are always posted on the first Wednesday in each month - and as we have just come out of banned books week I have decided to talk a little about Huckleberry Finn which is indeed banned in many libraries and schools in both the UK and US. In fact in the US the book is actually the fourth most banned book.
Now I only read Huckleberry Finn for the first time last year - together with Tom Sawyer it came pre-installed on my eReader. Of course I knew the story well from the various film and TV versions I've seen over the years but had never actually read the book. Maybe if the books hadn't been bundled on the eReader then I never would have - I'm glad I did. Both are excellent books and I think Huck Finn is one of the best books I have ever read.
Now the book is often banned because of it's continual use of the word, "nigger". Now it's not always used in a particularly racist way but it is used a lot - on one page I counted the word 23 times. And whilst I don't agree with banning any book I can see a reason for the books use being limited in schools. Maybe it's not for the very young but once a child reaches a certain level of maturity then of course they should study the book. And as I've said the book is of its time rather than racist. Huck is firm friends with a runaway slave called Jim and the two have some thrillingly written adventures together but Huck refers to Jim throughout as, "nigger". It was an accepted word at the time and even if it is unacceptable today and would never be used by any right thinking person, it was very much in common use back in the day.
If Huck Finn is racist then Mark Twain was also racist which means we should also ban Tom Sawyer, Merry Tales, Roughing It, Innocents Abroad and all the other works the prolific author produced. Where does it stop? Let's ban the entire Twain bibliography..
The more I think about it the more uncertain I become about the suitability of the book for young children, but I don't think banning it is the answer. Is it racist? I don't think so and am of the opinion that Twain humanises the character of Jim and does therefore strike a blow against racism.
Decide for yourself is what I say...