Item description for Uncle Tom's Cabin (Classic Fiction) by Harriet Beecher Stowe...
An international bestseller that sold more than 300,000 copies when it first appeared in 1852, Uncle Tom's Cabin was dismissed by some as abolitionist propaganda; yet Tolstoy deemed it a great work of literature "flowing from love of God and man." Today, however, Harriet Beecher Stowe's stirring indictment of slavery is often confused with garish dramatizations that flourished for decades after the Civil War:productions that relied heavily on melodramatic simplifications of character totally alien to the original.Thus "Uncle Tom" has become a pejorative term for a subservient black, whereas Uncle Tom in the book is a man who, under the most inhumane of circumstances, never loses his human dignity. "Uncle Tom's Cabin" is the most powerful and most enduring work of art ever written about American slavery," said Alfred Kazin.
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Format: Abridged, Audiobook
Studio: Naxos Audiobooks
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 4.9" Width: 1.9" Height: 0.6" Weight: 0.1 lbs.
Publisher Naxos Audiobooks
ISBN 9626341750 ISBN13 9789626341759
Availability 0 units.
More About Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) was born in Litchfield, Connecticut, daughter of the Reverend Lyman Beecher of the local Congregational Church. In 1832, the family moved to Cincinnati, where Harriet married Calvin Ellis Stowe, a professor at the seminary, in 1836. The border town of Cincinnati was alive with abolitionist conflict and there Mrs. Stowe took an active part in community life. She came into contact with fugitive slaves, and learned from friends and from personal visits what life was like for the Negro in the South. In 1850, the Fugitive Slave Law was passed, and that same year Harriet s sister-in-law urged the author to put her feelings about the evils of slavery into words. Uncle Tom s Cabin was first published serially during 1851-52 in The National Era, and in book form in 1852. In one year more than 300,000 copies of the novel were sold. Mrs. Stowe continued to write, publishing eleven other novels and numerous articles before her death at the age of eighty-five in Hartford, Connecticut.
Susan K. Harris is Joyce and Elizabeth Hall Distinguished Professor of American Literature at the University of Kansas.
Harriet Beecher Stowe was born in 1811 and died in 1896.
Harriet Beecher Stowe has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Uncle Tom's Cabin (Classic Fiction)?
My perspective on Uncle Tom's Cabin Jun 4, 2008
I jumped into this book mainly to work on reading lists that i had seen it appear on. I did have the vague idea that most people do of what it is about, but would of been hard pressed to really give any serious detail of the story before hand. So after a little research i jumped in, and this was my experience. While the novel overall was good, i must admit that I was very glad when it was finally finished. The tale follows several different characters and the different fates that they have according to the choices they have made. The characters are very well drawn out, although today many would be considered somewhat stock. I think it will be a long time before I forget Tom, Eva, or St.Clare for instance. The tale does set up a brillant bit of emotional drama, and brings forth a moral tale in such a way i'm almost shocked that it was so popular. In today's society I can't imagine that a story with such strong overtone's would be successful. The writing today is still clear and fairly easy to read. The quality of the prose and the sentances to have their moments as well. Sometimes the religion and the moralizing does come on very strongly, but along with the sentimentalness one can forgive the author when realizing the massive evil insitution she was facing. This is probably not a book that the average reader will read for kicks. However, from a literary and historical perspective it is quite great. It is slightly scary to imagine where the world would have been without it as well.
A towering, very important American classic Dec 29, 2007
For whatever reasons, I'm one of those who, over the years, never gave "Uncle Tom's Cabin" much thought. I'm afraid I dismissed the book based on the derogatory cliche of describing a complacent black man as an Uncle Tom. What a pleasure to find how wrong I was.
Although the style of narration, the punctuation style of the day and the evolution of contractions, compound words and other bits of syntax show this book to be from the mid 1800s, "Uncle Tom's Cabin" is a modern novel. It is largely without the stifling level of detail offered in other books of the time, and it pushes the concept of omniscient narrator (perhaps along the lines of Vonnegut in "Breakfast of Champions") to a level that would likely be absurd in another story and purpose.
And Harriet Beecher Stowe did have a purpose - a daring, countervailing, completely forward-thinking challenge to the complacency of the day. The action of the story concludes in the second-to-last chapter. In the last chapter, called simply "Concluding Remarks," Stowe, referring to herself in third person, explains how she came to write the book, and in so doing pulls the reader beyond the realm of fiction in order to cap off her sermon. And a 500-page sermon is exactly what "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was and is.
To quote Stowe from the last chapter, "For many years of her life, the author avoided all reading upon or allusion to the subject of slavery, considering it as too painful to be inquired into, and one which advancing light and civilization would certainly live down. But, since the legislative act of 1850, when she heard, with perfect surprise and consternation, Christian and humane people actually recommending the remanding escaped fugitives into slavery, as a duty binding on good citizens,- when she heard, on all hands, from kind compassionate and estimable people, in the free states of the North, deliberation and discussions as to what Christian duty could be on his head,- she could only think, These men and Christians cannot know what slavery is; if they did, such a question could never be open for discussion. And from this arose a desire to exhibit it in a LIVING DRAMATIC REALITY [emphasis the author's]. She has endeavored to show it fairly, in the best and worst phases. In its BEST [emphasis the author's] aspect, she has, perhaps, been successful; but, oh! Who shall say what yet remains untold in that valley and shadow of death, that lies the other side?"
Within the narrative arts can be found a gray area between complete fiction and straightforwrad documenting. Within this area itself is a fine line of storytelling that sheds the fluff factor of fiction and the yawn factor of documentation. A story told along this line is not only compelling but offers to the receiver of the story a glimpse of what a life in the world depicted by the story must have been like. Or at the very least might have been like. This glimpse, whatever else it is, will be visceral, allowing the reader an actual emotional link. Finding this line is hard, staying on it harder and pulling off a finished work while remaining true to the line harder still. This is what Stowe did, a century before such a point of view emerged again in Americam media.
As such, Stowe explains that many of the characters are based on real people - yes, there really was a man as horrible as Simon Legree - and that most of the events in the book were based on true events known to her personally or through trusted reporting. This novelizing of reality was so compelling the book would be translated into twenty-two languages.
It would be relatively easy to take sentences and paragraphs out of context and reach the conclusion that Stowe decried slavery while holding the black race paternalistically. It's very possible to find any number of passages and label them as apologetic and paternalistic. There is, in fact, paternalism throughout the story, but this is a reflection of America ten years before the Civil War; and by the end of Stowe's "Concluding Remarks" this paternalism is gone.
I would describe the main apologist, St. Clare, who is keenly aware of the state of his own culture, as more of a rationalist. By making this character so, Stowe is able to open our eyes, as she opened many eyes of the day, to the subtler forms of defacto slavry - not at all to excuse slavery in general as some kind of natural order, but to bear witness to those toiling in other forms of captured work.
In 1851 the scullery maid of an English country home was not a slave, of course. Her employment was voluntary, after all, and at the end of a year she would have a few schillings to her name. But economically, perhaps even geographically, her freedom was largely unavailable to her, and so while not a slave under the law, the other side of her employment was the delivery of herself to twelve- or fifteen-hour days of scrubbing pots and pans. The delivery of herself to, at the end of any of those days, climbing three or four flights of a rear stairs to a garret; to a social life limited to the kitchen staff, which itself was a hierarchy that lorded over her; to little hope of marriage, if that's what she wanted, or to any sort of a life she might call her own. Why? To keep from starving to death.
And think about this today. Are you watching a 27" color TV with full remote that cost $199? Do you honestly think that set could have been made, boxed, shipped to a port in Asia, shipped by boat to the US, shipped by train and truck to your local StuffMart and sold to you profitably for one or two day's wages while every worker along the way was treated fairly? Do you care?
For the vast majority of those reading this review slavery is an abstracted and distant topic. It is a practice from a long ago past that might be given two meetings in a high school American History class, a cursory survey from which students might understand the concept of the economics of buying, selling and breeding human beings, from which they might be encouraged to imagine the suffering implicit to such practices.
Stowe's great achievment in writing "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was to belie the nuts and bolts, the mere logistics and schematics of slavery. She established for the reader the point of view of the slave, of a human life set against the legally sanctioned bureaucracy of slavery. She successfully depicted a person - an individual, a human being - sold as a product, warehoused as a product, transported as a product, and then set to use as an organic machine that was discarded and replaced when it broke. More to the point, she allows us glimpses into the inner lives, thoughts and prayers of those sold, warehoused, transported and used up while their ties to family and place, while their smallest hopes, are given credence only as an afterthought that may never coalesce. Only if, after having purchased a brother or a mother, there should be enough money remaining to buy the sister or the child. Only if it should be convenient and expedient for the planter to do so, only if it should strike that planter's fancy one particular afternoon but not another.
This book is as meaningful today, in new ways, as it was in 1851, and that is wholly remarkable.
Things Uncle Tom's Cabin teaches us Dec 14, 2007
1. SLAVERY WASN'T SO BAD AFTER ALL. I was surprised to find out that this book supported slavery. Of course, you have to wade through the melodrama and Christian speechifying -- about 95% of the book -- to get at Ms Stowe's thesis, but once you do it becomes clear. To Ms Stowe, slavery and capitalism are just different manifestations of evil human greed (St. Claire's speech, pp 239-241 in my edition). Old slavers who whipped their charges to death must be smiling now, knowing that they're being compared to the Rockefellers, Carnegies, and Bill Gates.
Ms Stowe deems many factors that separate capitalism and slavery to be irrelevant. The fact that under capitalism families weren't separated is irrelevant. The fact that people could emigrate freely is also irrelevant. The fact that people were not forced off their farms and into the cities is irrelevant. The fact that proletariat, even in Ms Stowe's day, were protected by labor laws is irrelevant. The fact that life expectancy for the proletariat increased vis à vis farmers is irrelevant. The fact that the proletariat were not chosen for racist reasons is irrelevant. The fact that a worker could become an entrepreneur and eventually a capitalist is also irrelevant.
2. CHRISTIANITY DOESN'T CONDEMN SLAVERY. Ms Stowe does a fine job (inadvertently) of showing that Christianity contains doctrine that supports slavery, and no doctrine that outright condemns it.
3. AMERICA IS FOR AMERICAN INDIANS. Ms Stowe states at the end of chapter 43 that Topsy, after receiving a decent Christian upbringing, became a teacher in "her own country" -- Africa. Ms Stowe believes that Africa is Topsy's country because she is descended from Africans, and conversely that the United States is not Topsy's country. Of course, if one were to apply the same logic to everyone in the U.S., only native Americans would pass the test. Pack your bags everyone!
Incredible Classic Still Relevant Today Dec 10, 2007
This novel delivers the truth of the horrifying effects of slavery on both the slave and the master; delivering the message that slavery is damaging to society as a whole. 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' is a historic classic but it is also very relevant for today. I believe this novel should be read by everyone so that slavery will always be understood as a terrible and frightening condition that affects entire societies. Also, 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' is not a difficult read; the writing feels fresh and it is truly a page-turner.
A classic mainly because of its social impact Nov 29, 2007
I think this book deserves the status of a classic due to the issues it addresses and the impact it has had on society. However, from a literary standpoint, the novel is merely average. Stowe is to be admired for her boldness and willingness to write a novel that deals so honestly with the evils of slavery. My critique here is that Stowe's mechanics and style are weak and make for clumsy reading. This book is one that I recommend, but don't expect a masterpiece in terms of literary prowess--do expect a moving depiction of the reprehensible abuse and mistreatment of slaves that will stay with you.