Barksdale Penick's Reviews > Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
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Jun 06, 2012

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Read in June, 2012

We visited the Museum of the Confederacy in Charlston South Carolina, and there was a display of about 30 novels written as Southern responses to the publication and wild success of Uncle Tom's Cabin in the North. That made me want to read Uncle Tom's Cabin to see why it was so popular. It has several good narrative lines and the evilest of characters, Simon Legree, a name I have heard of many time but did not know the origin of. It also did a comprehensive job of demonstrating how slavery bound blacks to pitiful circumstances in which hard, honesty, education and ambition were fruitless. Through the depiction of the slave owning characters, the author develops the view that slaveowning had much the same effect on them, as they were lazy, illogical, and ultimately retained the system of slavery through greed, sloth, and lack of imagination--how else could they live their lives?


But as a novel it was only so so. Quite moralistic (no surprise) and melodramatic. But I think books in the 19th century were more typically that way than modern novels, so it probably seemed quite a standard sort of story telling.

Certainly this is worth a read, but it is very long and has pages and pages of dialogue debating the merits of slavery. These can slogged through, but at quite a large cost to one's overall enjoyment of the book.

Now I want to read one of the Southern responses, but am not sure which one to choose. Maybe I will call the Museum of the Confederacy and see if they hav e a recommendation and if not, just ask for any title at all. I will post on that when I get through it.
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