- Copertina flessibile: 628 pagine
- Editore: Broadview Pr; Critical. edizione (15 aprile 2009)
- Lingua: Inglese
- ISBN-10: 1551118068
- ISBN-13: 978-1551118062
- Peso di spedizione: 590 g
Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly (Inglese) Copertina flessibile – 15 apr 2009
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As for flaws, yes, Mrs. Stowe does sermonize a fair bit, and her sentences and pronouncements can be smug. Yes, if you're not a Christian, you may find all her Christian references a bit much. (But the majority of her readers claimed to be Christian, and it was her appeal to the spirit of Christ that was her most powerful tug at the emotions of her readers). Yes, she still had some stereotypical views of African-Americans (frankly, I think most people have stereotypical views of races other than their own, they just don't state them as clearly today). But in her time, she went far beyond the efforts of most of her contemporaries to both see and portray her African-American brothers and sisters are equal to her. The best way she did this was in her multi-dimensional portrayal of her Negro characters -- they are, in fact, more believable and more diverse than her white characters. Yes, at times her portrayal of Little Eva and Uncle Tom is overdone at times -- they are a little cardboard in places -- but both, Uncle Tom especially, are overall believable, and very inspiring. The rest of the Negro characters - George Harris, Eliza, Topsy, Cassie, Emmeline, Chloe, Jane and Sara, Mammy, Alphonse, Prue, and others, span the whole spectrum of humanity -- they are vivid and real.
The comments of a previous reviewer that the book actually justifies slavery (because "it says it's no worse than capitalism") and that it shows that Christianity defends slavery are due to sloppy reading of the book. No one reading the book could possibly come to the conclusion that it does anything but condemn slavery in the strongest and most indubitable terms. This was the point of the book. The aside about capitalism was just that, an aside on the evils of capitalism. It did not and does not negate the attack on slavery. Secondly, another major point of the book is that TRUE Christianity does not and could not ever support slavery. Stowe points out the Biblical references used to claim that Christianity defended slavery merely to show how the Bible can be misused by those who wish to defend their own indefensible viewpoint. It's ridiculous to say that the book "shows that Christianity supported slavery". It shows that some misguided preachers abused certain Bible passages and ignored other ones to support their view of slavery.
There is an overlay of the tired "Victorian women's novel" to this piece - that must be granted. For literary perfection, it will never take its place beside Tolstoy, Dickens and Austen. But it is a piece entirely of its own category. Nothing before or after it has been anything like it, and it IS a great, if flawed, novel. I highly recommend it. I give it 5 stars despite its flaws because it's utterly unique, and its greatness is in some ways is related to its flaws.
The book has flaws, of course. The quality of the writing is variable, as it is in the works of many greater talents than Stowe. Herman Melville is one of my favorite writers, but I'd be hard-pressed to defend some of his sentences--or even some of his books--on purely literary grounds! There are indeed sentimental passages in "UTC." So what? There are plenty in Hawthorne, Dickens, Ruskin, and the Brontes, too...and lord knows our age has its own garish pieties. There are also a couple (only a couple!) of unfortunate remarks on the "childlike" character of slaves, but nothing so offensive as to render suspect Stowe's passionate belief that blacks are equal to whites in the eyes of God and must not be enslaved. (She also says that differences between blacks and whites do not result from a difference in innate ability, and argues that a white person raised to be a slave would show all the characteristics of one). By contrast, Plato wrote reams in defense of slavery and racialism, and yet people who point this out are considered spoilsports, if not philistines.
The reviewer who claimed to have learned from Stowe that "slavery is no worse than capitalism" has totally misunderstood Stowe, who says that slavery is AS terrible as capitalism. To be precise, Stowe equates the horrors of wage slavery under Victorian Britain's capitalist system of production with those of chattel slavery in the American South. Her definition of capitalism agrees perfectly with that of Karl Marx, who was a pro-abolitionist correspondent for the New York Daily Tribune (and was familiar enough with Stowe to have written a piece on her). Marx said that true capitalism is defined by "the annihilation of self-earned private property; in other words, the expropriation of the labourer." Marx did not consider America a capitalist state, because American workers had at least theoretical upward mobility and could acquire property. This was not at all true of the British working class when "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was written, as Stowe well knew. And there was nothing idiosyncratic about her opinion; contemporaneous books such as "The White Slaves of England" made the same connection between American chattel slavery and British wage slavery. The cruelty of both systems is what led Stowe to claim in an essay that the Civil War was not merely a war against slavery, but "a war for the rights of the working class of society as against the usurpation of privileged aristocracies."
As for the claim that Stowe says Christianity justifies slavery, this is either willful misreading or wishful thinking...she says the opposite so many times, and at such length, that to remove every expression of it would probably shorten the book by half (to the delight, apparently, of most of our nation's English students).
Not sure who to believe? If you're interested enough in "Uncle Tom's Cabin" to have slogged through this meandering review, why not read it and see for yourself what Stowe does, and doesn't, say?
As for the text-- this is the book that some say caused Abraham Lincoln to write the Emancipation Proclamation. An "Uncle Tom" has come to mean a black person who sells out to the white system-- but in so many ways, that is not at all what Uncle Tom does in the book. Stowe wrote the book to change what she saw as an unjust system, an evil system-- and at times, the text is very didactic (teacherly) and very preachy about religion. It's a fine "sentimental" book-- and a fine historical document. It's also a pretty good story. Yes, there are some places where we could just get a tooth ache from the syrup of the overly dramatized scenes (you'll see when you read about Little Eva). But it's a certain style of writing that accomplished Stowe's goal of getting the women who may not have owned slaves but who benefitted from the system (white, northern, wealthy ones) to realize the problems and move to CHANGE them.
Much of what people think about Uncle Tom's Cabin actually comes from the later "Tom shows" that travelled the country-- the minstrel reviews that were not very flattering either to blacks or to Stowe's original texts. Read the book that has everyone all stirred up and make your own judgements. You might not like it-- but don't let someone else make the decision for you.
A few coworkers and I started an informal book discussion group, where we'd read a couple chapters then meet over breakfast or lunch to discuss. None of us had ever been in a discussion group before. We had a quite diverse set of viewpoints and backgrounds among us, and were looking for something that would be enjoyable to read, but also provide material for discussion and debate.
After a lot of searching and voting, we settled on Uncle Tom's Cabin as our first book. It ended up filling the bill perfectly.
Knowing that it's taught in many schools, I expected a heavy literary "masterpiece" full of symbolism and arcane references. Instead I found it to be a fast-moving, easy to read page turner, and almost all of us in the club tended to read far ahead of the "assignments" for our meetings because we couldn't put it down. Yet it also prompted some great discussion about morality, social and personal responsibility, identity, religion, etc. Mrs. Stowe does not simply convey that "slavery is bad." She explores the ways in which all Americans were complicit in the institution by "turning the other cheek;" by claiming not to approve yet investing financially in companies that relied on slavery for profit; simply by not speaking out against it or supporting those who did. Again, great topics for group discussion.
As a group we've read a half dozen other books since Uncle Tom's Cabin, but none have provided the same combination of simple enjoyment and fodder for good discussion.