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Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
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Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852)

by Harriet Beecher Stowe

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Series: Sunshine Series

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  1. 21
    Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs (LisaMaria_C)
    LisaMaria_C: This is the slave narrative of Harriet Jacobs and shares with Stowe a Christian sensibility and emphasis on how slavery destroys a slaves moral agency.
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English (108)  Dutch (3)  Swedish (1)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  All languages (115)
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Read during Summer 2004

The overriding Christian sentiment is a bit much for these secular times but the central theme still comes through; how can anyone be moral when evil is allowed to continue? Powerful.
  amyem58 | Jul 14, 2014 |
interesting and eye opening account on slavery. but the fact that constantly new people were brought into the story confused me. i started to loose track of characters. and not so much was actually taking place in the " cabin".
for sure a classic considering when it was written. ( )
  kakadoo202 | Jul 3, 2014 |
Propaganda as art: That is how Harriet Beecher Stowe has presented the story of slavery in the mid-19th century. There are times when Stowe beats you over the head with the message that slavery is an evil that should not survive in a "Christian world." There is a heavy dose of religion presented here, and Tom's faith is a powerful tool in his struggle and ultimately a transcendent virtue at the novel's climax.

Some of Stowe's viewpoints are outdated, with a kind of "noble savage" perspective of blacks, whom she portrays as pitiful creatures at times. The final chapters are a bit overwrought, with a drawn out tying up of loose ends and a call for African nationalism, but not in America, which seems racist in today's society: "Set free the slaves and send them back to Africa rather than allow them to be equals in America." The final chapter is Stowe's final thesis against slavery, as she argues the authenticity of her characters and their lives.

Despite its dated language and ideals, it remains a powerful argument against America's worst transgression. The plot moves along quickly, as you can tell it was first published episodically. There is a lot of action, and the plot only stalls for a few chapters here and there. Some of the scenes will make you cringe, and that's the point.

Stowe leaves no one out of this book. Every character archetype is here: from meek and subservient slaves to the revolutionary firebrands, from the well-meaning slave owner to the brutal plantation master. Stowe addresses every man, woman and child in her treatise to end slavery. While today's reader must look beyond some of the content here, this novel remains one of the most important novels in U.S. history. ( )
  Bradley_Kramer | May 15, 2014 |
Harriet Beecher Stowe was a staunch advocate for the abolishment of slavery in the mid-1800s, and Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which is her most famous book, was a novel about the evils of slavery and the slave trade. It is said that when Beecher Stowe met Abraham Lincoln, he said to her, “So you are the little lady who wrote the book that started this great war in reference to the American Civil War. However, while is it certainly true that the two met, it has never been confirmed that Lincoln said such a thing, although I can see why the book would have caused a large stir when it was released.

The titular character starts the novel as a slave owned by Mr and Mrs Shelby. He has lived for several years on their plantation, and has a wife and children there. Due to financial woes, Mr Shelby sells him to a slave trader, and the novel follows Tom’s life through two more owners. It talks about the other people he meets, some benevolent, such as Augustine St Clare, who determines to give Tom his freedom, and others not so.

Because of the historical and political significance of this book, I really really wanted to like it. I had meant to read it for ages, and finally picked it up after a friend told me she had enjoyed it. And the thing is…I came away a bit disappointed. The main thing that hit me about this book was just how preachy it is. There’s a lot of religion in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. A LOT. And people are divided into one of three categories. If you are a Christian, you are a good person. If you are not a Christian, you are an evil person. If you are not a Christian but are striving to be, you will probably be a good person in the end. I understand that books have to be read in context; it’s important to remember when this novel was written, but whereas some classics age well, Uncle Tom’s Cabin has aged badly (well, it’s just my little opinion of course). It’s overwhelming preachiness – which appears without fail on at least one out of every two pages – got somewhat tiring after a while. It’s a shame, because when Beecher Stowe stepped away from the religious aspect, her writing could be quite enjoyable and even amusing. I’m not a religious person, but I don’t have anything against religion. I just don’t need it ramming down my throat quite so often, or to be told that anybody who is not a Christian is inherently bad.

Also, for a book which strives so hard to point out that slaves are just as much people as anyone else (which sounds obvious in today’s world, but again remembering when this was written – slaves were seen as commodities or possessions, nothing more), it is a shame that the slaves themselves are spoken about in broad stereotypes (several times, Beecher Stowe makes reference to a trait that is common “to their race.”), and rather patronisingly.

Although there is little characterisation, the story itself was a quite enthralling one, and would have been much more enjoyable if it had been told as a more straightforward narrative without the religious lecturing part. My favourite part was the section of the book where Tom was living with the St Clare family, and within the confines of his situation was happy. The ending contained a ridiculous amount of coincidence, which made the last few pages hard to take seriously, but I cannot deny that the book did make me cry on a couple of occasions.

I think I would probably recommend this book, but more because of its significance, rather than because I especially enjoyed it. At times, it was enjoyable, but I found it hard going at times. Nonetheless, it did help to change a nation’s views on slavery, and it’s worth reading the book that managed to do such a thing. ( )
  Ruth72 | Mar 25, 2014 |
An example for a so-called children’s book, which, as far as I can speak out of a German childhood, produces wrong notions of the world behind characters and scenery. Only after it is read again beyond adolescence, you understand why it had become one of the provoking factors for the American Civil War.
  hbergander | Feb 10, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (181 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Harriet Beecher Stoweprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Curtis, Christopher PaulForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Douglas, AnnEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holmberg, NilsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johnson, EastmanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Larsson, EvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lynn, Kenneth S.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mackey, William, Jr.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Noto Soeroto, TrisnatiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Late in the afternoon of a chilly day in February, two gentlemen were sitting alone over their wine, in a well-furnished dining-parlor, in the town of P_______, in Kentucky.
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"Your heart is better than your head, in this case, John," said the wife, laying her little white hand on his. "Could I ever have loved you, had I not known you better than you know yourself?"
Of course, in a novel, people's hearts break, and they die, and that is the end of it; and in a story this is very convenient. But in real life we do not die when all that makes life bright to us dies to us. There is a most busy and important round of eating, drinking, dressing, walking, visiting, buying, selling, talking, reading, and all that makes up what is commonly called living, yet to be gone through; and this yet remained to Augustine.
"Well," said St. Clare, "suppose that something should bring down the price of cotton once and forever, and make the whole slave property a drug in the market, don't you think we should soon have another version of the Scripture doctrine? What a flood of light would pour into the church, all at once, and how immediately it would be discovered that everything in the Bible and reason went the other way!"
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The Young Folks' Edition of Uncle Tom's Cabin has different text and ~92 pages; please do not combine with the main work.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553212184, Mass Market Paperback)

Uncle Tom, Topsy, Sambo, Simon Legree, little Eva: their names are American bywords, and all of them are characters in Harriet Beecher Stowe's remarkable novel of the pre-Civil War South. Uncle Tom's Cabin was revolutionary in 1852 for its passionate indictment of slavery and for its presentation of Tom, "a man of humanity," as the first black hero in American fiction. Labeled racist and condescending by some contemporary critics, it remains a shocking, controversial, and powerful work -- exposing the attitudes of white nineteenth-century society toward "the peculiar institution" and documenting, in heartrending detail, the tragic breakup of black Kentucky families "sold down the river." An immediate international sensation, Uncle Tom's Cabin sold 300,000 copies in the first year, was translated into thirty-seven languages, and has never gone out of print: its political impact was immense, its emotional influence immeasurable.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:36:16 -0400)

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First published 1852

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