Adolescent Reading: More on Censoring Twain

[The following is the beginning of a partial list of times that Huck Finn has been challenged, banned or censored since its publication in 1885.  Huck Finn holds the distinction of being the fifth most frequently banned book (Tom Sawyer comes in at #83).  Clicking on this link will navigate you to a site that teaches about censorship in literature, a very informative compendium of analyses and statistics.  —  Lew Rosenbaum]

English 406
Dr. Roggenkamp
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been challenged virtually since the day it was published.  Early critics claimed that children should not read the book because Huck was a bad role model and used improper grammar.  Famously, the Concord, Massachusetts library board (including member Louisa May Alcott) voted to ban the book in 1885, saying that, “It deals with a series of adventures of a very low grade of morality; it is couched in the language of a rough, ignorant dialect, and all through its pages there is a systematic use of bad grammar and an employment of rough, coarse, inelegant expressions.  It is also very irreverent.”  Alcott herself, alas, wrote that “if Mr. Clemens cannot think of something better to tell our pure-minded lads and lasses, he had better stop writing for them.”  Twain himself was delighted, at this turn of events and called the library ban “a rattling tip-top puff which will go into every paper in the country . . . and sell 25,000 copies for us sure.”

Once you click on this link, look at the menu to the left on the link page (Summaries of Challenges) and find the line for Huckleberry Finn. Click that line and you will open a word document that has the list of challenges to Huck Finn.


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