I have a pet peeve- people bowlderizing books. Once a book has been published, don’t go back in and change a bunch of words to ‘sanitize’ it. (Also don’t go in and cut out a bunch of stuff- I know some people like abridged books but I’m not one of them.)
This is apropo of looking for a copy of Huckleberry Finn. I had a nice copy- decent pictures, nice leather binding… and then I read it. Now see here- you do NOT rewrite Mark Twain- I don’t care who you are! Yes, I know his language is politically incorrect and offensive now… but this is a 100 year old book and it wasn’t then. (It was still scandalous… but for a totally different reason.) First off- this book is part of why those words are offensive now. Secondly- if we go about sanitizing all the books, soon people will forget what went on, how bad it was and why we never ever want to go there again.
If I were a publisher and Huck Finn was submitted to me today- hell, yes, I’d ask the author to make changes! But should we change an antique book now to make it align with today’s standards? NO.
Another case in point- I had to look up a pre-1972 copy of Rabbit Hill because the two sentence reference to the cook being ‘colored’ was removed. Interestingly enough, the reference was tiny and the removal made no difference at all in the book… but until I found it, I couldn’t know that.
Also? If a book is already in English, I don’t see the point of ‘translating’ it into American. I had to get my Harry Potter books from Canada and the UK because the US books changed a bunch of words to make it more accessable to Americans. Really? These characters are British- they say “trainers” not “sneakers”- quit ‘fixing’ my books!
Books are our records of who we were and where we were and how people were there and then. If we ‘fix’ all of that then our records will be useless.