Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
(Wordsworth Classics)

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George Shelby returns home to his farm, where he sets all of his slaves free in honor of Tom, and he urges them to remember him when they look at his cabin, and live a life honoring to God, even to death, like Tom.
-Teen Ink

Synopsis

The first American novel to become an international best-seller, Stowe's book charts the paths from slavery to freedom of fugitives who escape the chains of American chattel slavery, and of a martyr who transcends all earthly ties.

This edition firmly locates Uncle Tom's Cabin within the context of African-American writing, the issues of race and the role of women. Its introduction discusses African responses to Stowe's novel over the last century and a half and its appendices include excerpts from popular slave narratives, Stowe's `The Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin', and Frederick Douglass's response to Stowe's model of black martyrdom. - ;`So you're the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war!'

These words, said to have been uttered by Abraham Lincoln, signal the celebrity of Uncle Tom's Cabin. The first American novel to become an international best-seller, Stowe's novel charts the progress from slavery to freedom of fugitives who escape the chains of American chattel slavery, and of a martyr who transcends all earthly ties. At the middle of the nineteenth-century, the names of its characters - Little Eva, Topsy, Uncle Tom - were renowned. A hundred years later, `Uncle Tom'
still had meaning, but, to Blacks everywhere it had become a curse.

This edition firmly locates Uncle Tom's Cabin within the context of African-American writing, the issues of race and the role of women. Its appendices include the most important contemporary African-American literary responses to the glorification of Uncle Tom's Christian resignation as well as excerpts from popular slave narratives, quoted by Stowe in her justification of the dramatization of slavery, Key to Uncles Tom's Cabin. -
 

About Harriet Beecher Stowe

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Harriet Beecher was born in Litchfield, Connecticut, one of nine children of the distinguished Congregational minister and stern Calvinist, Lyman Beecher. Of her six brothers, five became ministers, one of whom, Henry Ward Beecher, was considered the finest pulpit orator of his day. In 1832 Harriet Beecher went with her family to Cincinnati, Ohio. There she taught in her sister's school and began publishing sketches and stories. In 1836 she married the Reverend Calvin E. Stowe, one of her father's assistants at the Lane Theological Seminary and a strong antislavery advocate. They lived in Cincinnati for 18 years, and six of her children were born there. The Stowes moved to Brunswick, Maine, in 1850, when Calvin Stowe became a professor at Bowdoin College. Long active in abolition causes and knowledgeable about the atrocities of slavery both from her reading and her years in Cincinnati, with its close proximity to the South, Stowe was finally impelled to take action with the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850. By her own account, the idea of Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) first came to her in a vision while she was sitting in church. Returning home, she sat down and wrote out the scene describing the death of Uncle Tom and was so inspired that she continued to write on scraps of grocer's brown paper after her own supply of writing paper gave out. She then wrote the book's earlier chapters. Serialized first in the National Era (1851--52), an important abolitionist journal with national circulation, Uncle Tom's Cabin was published in book form in March 1852. It was an immediate international bestseller; 10,000 copies were sold in less than a week, 300,000 within a year, and 3 million before the start of the Civil War. Family legend tells of President Abraham Lincoln (see Vol. 3) saying to Stowe when he met her in 1862: "So this is the little lady who made this big war?" Whether he did say it or not, we will never know, since Stowe left no written record of her interview with the president. But he would have been justified in saying it. Certainly, no other single book, apart from the Bible, has ever had any greater social impact on the United States, and for many years its enormous historical interest prevented many from seeing the book's genuine, if not always consistent, literary merit. The fame of the novel has also unfortunately overshadowed the fiction that Stowe wrote about her native New England: The Minister's Wooing (1859), Oldtown Folks (1869), Poganuc People (1878), and The Pearl of Orr's Island (1862), the novel that, according to Sarah Orne Jewett, began the local-color movement in New England. Here Stowe was writing about the world and its people closest and dearest to her, recording their customs, their legends, and their speech. As she said of one of these novels, "It is more to me than a story. It is my resume of the whole spirit and body of New England.
 
Published March 16, 2016 by Penguin Classics. 496 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction, History, War, Children's Books, Westerns, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Comics & Graphic Novels, Education & Reference, Romance, Arts & Photography, Horror, Law & Philosophy, Religion & Spirituality, Action & Adventure, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Uncle Tom's Cabin
All: 8 | Positive: 8 | Negative: 0

Publishers Weekly

Good
on Oct 30 2006

...it continues to spur debate about the meanings of slavery and domesticity. Those are just some of the reasons it's an oft-assigned text in colleges, a market this beautifully annotated, wide-format edition addresses nicely.

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Examiner

Excellent
Reviewed by Kelly Atwood on Jan 04 2011

Even after all the years since the book’s release, the characters still have the power to move our hearts...This masterpiece paints an accurate picture of daily life for African Americans before the Civil War. They lived with the constant fear of losing everything in the blink of an eye with little hope of the future.

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Slate

Good
Reviewed by Adam Goodheart on Jul 18 2011

If Uncle Tom's Cabin has lost its edge, and even seems anodyneto some readers today, this may actually be a measure of its success. In the heat of civil-rights battles, ordinary gestures...can become revolutionary. With victory achieved, these things become banal once more. And that, perhaps, was the entire point.

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BellaOnline

Above average
Reviewed by Rebecca Graf on Jun 15 2015

This is one book that I think you should read. It will give you a new perspective of slave-holding America and give you a little more depth into the lives that were affected by it. Let Harriet Beecher Stowe take you into a world you only thought you knew.

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Teen Ink

Above average
Reviewed by canibedone on Jul 03 2015

George Shelby returns home to his farm, where he sets all of his slaves free in honor of Tom, and he urges them to remember him when they look at his cabin, and live a life honoring to God, even to death, like Tom.

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Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by JasmineSidhu on Jul 02 2015

In my view, the book is immensely impactful because Harriet Beecher Stowe is able to evoke strong emotions in the reader and compel them to imagine situations that are too grotesque and licentious to even conceive possible...Once you read this book not only will you have wept your eyes out, but you will have become a better person.

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Book Review Circle

Above average
Reviewed by Prerna Gupta on Jun 11 2015

Everyone should read this book...One might find the writing style cumbersome, but there is much that commends the book. It is a piece of literature like none other. It is beautifully written and some parts of it will pull at your heartstrings and bring tears to your eyes.

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Reading World

Above average
Reviewed by Susan on Jun 23 2011

Throughout the story, Stowe demonstrates the cruelty and indignity of slavery. Even when masters are "kind," slavery is cruel. The writing is preachy and some of the events are melodramatic; however, the story is nevertheless captivating...It’s an important book AND a good book.

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