Declared worthless and dehumanizing by the novelist and critic James Baldwin in 1955, Uncle Tom's Cabin has lacked literary credibility for over fifty years. Now, in a refutation of Baldwin, Henry Louis Gates Jr. and his coeditor, Hollis Robbins, affirm the literary transcendence of Harriet Beecher Stowe's 1852 masterpiece. As Gates and Robbins underscore, there has never been a single work of fiction that had a greater effect on American history than Uncle Tom's Cabin.
Expanding on recent scholarship and providing a new, African-American perspective, Gates and Robbins discuss how Baldwin got it wrong, and that "the time seems right for a reassessment both of the novel and of James Baldwin's critique, itself by now a part of the canon." Deciding to reprint the entire Stowe text, they reinvigorate this classic American story, allowing the modern reader to understand how entrenched racism came to distort both our perception of the characters as well as the meaning of the original novel.
New readers will be moved by the story of Eliza Harris, the young slave mother who escapes from the Shelby plantation in Kentucky to avoid being sold away from her child, but they will also learn how Stowe had to "whiten" the character of Eliza in order to offset Eliza's marital sexuality. In retracing Tom's stoic journey from Kentucky to the grand mansion of Augustine St. Clare in New Orleans, to Simon Legree's hellish plantation, we will also watch as generations of illustrators simultaneously emasculated the character of Tom in his scenes with Little Eva, while underscoring his inner strength as he's whipped by Legree and dies a martyr's death.
Gates and Robbins have compiled a comprehensive set of images that span the entire published history of the book. Original woodcuts and illustrations, advertisements, cartoons, rare prints, posters, paintings, photographs, and movie stills show the pervasive influence of Uncle Tom's Cabin on American history and pop culture.
Along with these images and the introductory essay, Gates and Robbins have richly edited the original text with hundreds of annotations illuminating life in the South during nineteenth-century slavery, the abolitionist movement and the influential role played by devout Christians, the life story of Harriet Beecher Stowe, the Underground Railroad, Stowe's literary motives, her writing methods, and the novel's wide-ranging impact on the American public.
"So you're the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war!"
Series: The Annotated Books
For Ages: 14+ years old
For Grades: 9+
Number Of Pages: 528
Published: 1st November 2006
Publisher: WW Norton & Co
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 26.2 x 23.1 x 4.1
Weight (kg): 1.66
Edition Number: 1