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Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly [Copertina flessibile]

Harriet Beecher Stowe , Christopher G. Diller

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Amazon.com: 4.5 su 5 stelle  835 recensioni
290 di 305 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
5.0 su 5 stelle Read it and judge for yourself 2 maggio 1999
Di Un cliente - Pubblicato su Amazon.com
Formato:Copertina rigida
Uncle Tom's cabin is frequently criticized by people who have never read the work, myself included. I decided I finally needed to read it and judge it for myself. And I have to say, that for all its shortcomings (and it does have them), it is really a remarkable book. The standout characteristics of this book are the narrative drive (it's a very exciting, hard to put down book), the vivid characters (I don't know what other reviewers were reading, but I found the characters extremely vivid and mostly believable - exceptions to follow), the sprawling cast, the several completely different worlds that were masterfully portrayed, and the strong female characters in the book. The portrayal of slavery and its effects on families and on individuals is gut-wrenching - when Uncle Tom has to leave his family, and when Eliza may lose little Harry, one feels utterly desolate.
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.
70 di 70 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
4.0 su 5 stelle excellent background but read the novel first 23 novembre 2006
Di Nils Kelly - Pubblicato su Amazon.com
Formato:Copertina rigida
John Updike reviews this new edition in the Nov 6 New Yorker, which is available online and well worth looking up. With 100 pages to go, Updike tired of the "irritable sniping from the sidelines" and switched to the standard Library of America edition.

A few months ago I reviewed the Penguin edition of Uncle Tom's Cabin here in Amazon. I suggested that if you decide to read the novel, skip the Introduction until you are done reading, because it gives away several plot points that you are better off encountering for yourself directly.

The same applies to this new annotated edition I think. The novel is not so difficult that you can't simply read it through on your own. I suggest doing that first, in a standard edition, then going through this edition. Otherwise you are having only a mediated experience of the work. In other words, let the work stand or fall on its own merits first, before exposing yourself to the opinions of others about it.

Having read the standard edition earlier I then read this annotated edition "inside out". That is, I read the introductory chapters and the annotations themselves straight through and used Stowe's text as the reference. This is a better approach I think than trying to read the text for the first time with the annotations nearby, where they do intrude and interrupt the flow of the story.

When reading the annotations this way though you do notice the inconsistency in voice that Updike mentions. Most are carefully neutral but you get an occasional first-person remark like "I confess my eyes glazed over" (gee that's helpful), then "again, our eyes glaze over" or "I recall Baldwin's...". Or "I am close to turning the page." then "...bore us silly", in the same annotation. As if the two editors read, and experienced eye-glaze, in unison? Since there seems to be two distinct voices at play it would have been useful for each annotation to have been initialed by its author, Gates or Robbins. I started trying to guess which editor wrote which annotation--I suspect Robbins provided the majority of the historical background while Gates did the Baldwins, the "I"s, and the trendier ones ("To the modern reader, Adolph is unmistakably 'metrosexual'"). This disparity in tone is also obvious between Gates' public interview (Boston Globe, Nov 12) in which he too-casually terms the work racist, and the less judgmental and more nuanced approach of the majority of the annotations themselves.

Getting past that though the annotations contain a wealth of useful background. The Biblical references, the distinctions among the slaves, the nuances of hypocrisy, the literary conventions, the sheer mechanics of the business, the conventional wisdom of the time about the races, all are excellent and thorough.

So, if you are going to read Uncle Tom's Cabin, do so first, then get this edition. It's an indispensable addition to the work.
247 di 264 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
5.0 su 5 stelle I finally read this excellent book! 11 novembre 2009
Di CCC - Pubblicato su Amazon.com
Formato:Formato Kindle|Acquisto verificato
Since this was a free Kindle download, I was prompted to finally read this classic book. It is much better than I expected it would be! Easy to read, well-written, and eye-opening. I noticed another reviewer said the download version was hard to read, but I did not find that to be a problem at all. One nice thing about the Kindle is the ability to download so many classics for free. I doubt I would go to the library and check out Uncle Tom's Cabin, but I would and did read it as a free Kindle download. I am glad that I did!
143 di 152 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
4.0 su 5 stelle Yet another surprised reader 27 luglio 2000
Di "catoblepas" - Pubblicato su Amazon.com
Formato:Copertina flessibile
I too was surprised by "Uncle Tom's Cabin." I'd expected a poorly written melodrama with (at best) a tepid commitment to abolition and a strong undercurrent of racism. I was wrong. As a novel, I consider it to be better than many of its rough contemporaries (including "A Tale of Two Cities," "Vanity Fair," and "Sartor Resartus"). As an attack on slavery, it is uncompromising, well informed, logically sophisticated, and morally unassailable. It's also exciting, educational, and often funny.
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?
111 di 122 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
5.0 su 5 stelle Excellent Book for a Discussion Club 28 settembre 2009
Di S. Marston - Pubblicato su Amazon.com
Formato:Formato Kindle
(This is a review of the print edition, not the e-book version. I cannot comment on the electronic formatting of this edition.)

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.

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