I am enormously fond of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (and of Sam Clemens in general), and so I was rather taken aback to hear that NewSouth Books intends to release an expurgated edition of both novels in February. This bowdlerisation will specifically remove the words "nigger" and "injun" from the text.
I hadn't read Huckleberry Finn until recently, and although I was initially alarmed by the language, I grew to welcome the bracing and gritty realism. I came away from the book with an appreciation for the subversiveness with which the author used the hated word, and I have a hard time believing that the altered text of the forthcoming edition will be help future readers appreciate the story. Jim's struggle against racism, and Huckleberry's internal conflict over helping Jim escape (which he initially and heartbreakingly thinks of as "stealing") can't help but grip the reader, and the way Clemens interwove the racist language of the time into Finn's internal monologue really drives these struggles home.
But don't listen to me: this fellow explains the intricacies of the case much better than I do. And I agree with him.
And I could be wrong. I have never, to my knowledge, been called anything worse than a "limey". What do you think?
Edit: Tom the Dancing Bug weighs in.