Introduction and Parental Caution

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is both one of the most highly acclaimed and one of the most frequently criticized works of American literature. The story is set in the Mississippi valley in about 1840, and is written using the dialects, grammar and epithets of that time and place. In addition, some of the illustrations created by E. W. Kemble for the original publication, and included in this online version, reflect the racial stereotypes of the 19th century.

The most frequently attacked aspect of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is its wholesale use of the ‘n-word’. That word has been removed from this version of of the book, replaced with the word ‘slave’. My hope is that readers who would otherwise shun the book, and miss out on this masterpiece of American literature, will instead read this or another PC version. Readers who prefer to read the original version may do so here.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is best understood and appreciated by young readers if they have an understanding of the social context in which the story takes place. There are many sources of information on the history and consequences of slavery in the United States. Parents and young people are encouraged to refer to Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass.


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