- Publisher: PENGUIN CLASSICS
- Format: Paperback | 640 pages
- Dimensions: 129mm x 196mm x 28mm | 463g
- Publication date: 1 June 1986
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 0140390030
- ISBN 13: 9780140390032
- Edition statement: Reprint
- Sales rank: 128,331
Published in 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel was a powerful indictment of slavery in America. Describing the many trials and eventual escape to freedom of the long-suffering, good-hearted slave Uncle Tom, it aimed to show how Christian love can overcome any human cruelty. "Uncle Tom's Cabin" has remained controversial to this day, seen as either a vital milestone in the anti-slavery cause or as a patronising stereotype of African-Americans, yet it played a crucial role in the eventual abolition of slavery and remains one of the most important American novels ever written.
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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. Ann Douglas teaches English at Columbia University. Her books include Terrible Honesty: Mongrel Manhattan in the 1920s and The Feminization of American Culture."
"Uncle Tom's Cabin is the most powerful and enduring work of art ever written about American slavery." Alfred Kazin"
Librarians will dispute Miss White's contention that "boys and girls no longer read Uncle Tom's Cabin;" what cannot be disputed is the dismay with which they regard it, the difficulty they have in understanding it. To overcome the difficulties and "to heighten the effect," she has cut references to terms "outside a young reader's knowledge and understanding" which she interprets to mean "vocabulary beyond the ten-to-fourteen level;" she has substituted indirect for direct discourse in some instances to achieve "a change of pace;" she has removed "old fashioned punctuation" ("they don't understand the semicolon at all"); she has eliminated some explanation of characters and description of surroundings, and "unessential religious commentary and interpolation;" she has simplified the opening of the story "with the object of capturing the reader from the start." All this results in a version which is twenty percent shorter than the original and which is unquestionably easier to read. It is still the story of Uncle Tom (and Eliza and Topsy,) and it still is a moving document, but it is not Mrs. Stowe's book. Hopefully, librarians will have both on their shelves and offer readers an informed choice between the two. (Kirkus Reviews)