Would that Mark Twain were with us to comment on the latest effort to bowdlerize his work. Huckleberry Finn is universally acknowledged to be a masterpiece of American literature. Especially admired is Twain’s deployment of colloquial English: the banter between Huck and his friend Jim is a tour de force. Alas and alack, Twain, in writing about a moment in nineteenth-century Southern culture, neglected to consult the sensibilities of twenty-first-century politically correct churls for whom art should be “challenging” and “transgressive” just so long as it doesn’t challenge or transgress any current P.C. pieties. The piety Twain transgresses, of course, is racial: he repeatedly uses, as anyone in Huck’s position would have done, a coarse but common variant of the word “Negro.”

Horrors! William Burroughs’s paeans to homosexual pedophilia and drug abuse are dandy. You’ll find his ...