The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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Date: 1876

Region: North America, Europe

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Literature


Huck Finn.JPG

Artist: Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

Confronting Bodies: Public Libraries, Soviet government

Dates of Action: 1885, 1905, 1930, 1957

Location: United States, Soviet Union

Description of Artwork: "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", 1885 : novel about a boy, Huck and his black friend Jim who together make a journey , interrupted by frequent stops, far down the Mississippi on a raft.

The Incident: 1885 Concord, MA: In the home town of Henry David Thoreau, the "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" was banned by the Public Library as "trash and suitable only for the slums."

1905 Brooklyn, N.Y.: The book was excluded from children's room of the Public Library as bad examples of ingenuous youth.

1930 Soviet Union: Books confiscated at the border.

1957 United States-New York City : Dropped from list of approved books for seniors and junior high schools, partly because of objection to frequent use of the term "nigger" and famed character, "Nigger Jim."

Results of Incident: After the 1885 incident The Concord Free Trade Club retaliated by electing the author to honorary membership.

In 1905 Asa Don Dickinson, Librarian of Brooklyn College, appealed to the author to defend the slander. His reply, which was not published until 1924, said: "I am greatly troubled by what you say. I wrote Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn for adults exclusively, and it always distressed me when I find that boys and girls have been allowed access to them. The mind that becomes soiled in youth can never again be washed clean."

1946 : Books had become best sellers in Soviet Union.

NOTE: Mr. Clemens censored The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and deleted the profanity and other strong passages, but left some which have at times been criticized, such has: "All kings is mostly rapscallions" (Ch.23) and "so the king he blatted along" (Ch.25). The London Athenaeum has called it one of the six greatest books ever written in America.

Source: Banned Books 387 B.C. to 1978 A.D., by Anne Lyon Haight, and Chandler B.