Literature is art. Art is the creation of an artist. If he or she wants it one way, that is how it will be. The only people with the right to alter books are the authors of the books themselves. There is a reason, whether they felt obligated to tell you or not, that an author wrote a book the way they did.
Altering of language in classic novels would be a terrible injustice to a classic. The way those novels were written is what makes them classic. If the language was changed to a more modern style I think it would take away from the story. For example, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn would not be the same story at all if the language was changed. The language of classics has a huge role in making the story what it is. It shows what the time was like when the author wrote the story. Fifty years from now the language would have to be changed all over again. I think it would be disrespectful to the author to change the language of a classic novel.
The language that was used during the times these novels were written is part of the package, and part of what makes them classic. It enhances the setting and gives the reader a better understanding of historical ways of speaking. Altering that is as bad as censoring art. No painting should be censored, nor should any classic novels.
A classic novel is classic. That's just the way people talked back then, the words they used. That's what was normal to that generation, so why should we change it just to fit our standards of language. We're the one that talk differently, not the writers of those books, so why should they be changed just for us. WE need to understand THEM. In response to Tobellicus, Kids go to school to learn to read and write don't the? Well that's how you do it.
I think that classical novels should not be altered. America's children and adolescents should improve their vocabulary and, ultimately, their reading aptitude through these classical books. Reading unaltered classical literature will help prepare youth for the SATs and, professional world. America's education is lacking as it is from 'going easy' on our students, and altering the language of classical novels will not help. This liteature is a wonderful way to improve on the minds of todays youth, altering it would not be beneficial to the future of America.
When an author puts something down on paper, they are putting it down in a specific way. The selection of words, phrases, format, et cetera is deliberate. To change these decisions after the author has died is to change their work without their permission. It is to present something in a way that is different from what the original author intended. If Mark Twain wrote the word "nigger" and you change it to "slave" so that you feel it is more appropriate for a child to read, you are presenting something that is not what Mark Twain intended to be presented. Perhaps one should explain to the child in question about the specific time period, socioeconomic circumstances, and cultural zeitgeist under which the book was authored. If one feels that the child is not old enough to comprehend why Twain says "nigger" instead of "slave," perhaps they should wait until they are older to read the book, instead of being handed a watered-down, inaccurate transcription that does not hold the same literary meaning.
I think that altering novels should be encouraged so incase a younger reader wants to read it, the language would be more familiar and easy to understand. It would also be great for teaching purposes. This does not mean that every book should be altered, but as long as it keeps the main ideas and themes it is okay.
"Be prevented"? I mean, it's certainly not optimal to butcher classic novels to increase comprehension, but now and again you run into someone who just can't understand the language used, and who might benefit more from reading a "simplified" version. While in generally it's not a good idea to alter classic novels, I think it's even worse to put a blanket ban on changing them at all.