Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe

Unsurprisingly, this is a pretty depressing book about slavery. From the perspective of a non-racist living in a post-slavery country, this book is really preachy. Stowe is susceptible to long-winded passages condemning slave-owners and the Northerners who don't intervene.

As a period piece, this book is still brilliant. The character and depth of Stowe's arguments and story display the nature of America in those years before the Civil War. Stowe is generous with her characters, there are kindly slave-owners, disinterested slave-owners and viciously cruel slave-owners. And there are pious, kind-hearted slaves, and clever slaves and slaves that are as cruel as their masters.

Stowe is a little generous to her sympathetic readers as well- some of the slaves reach freedom and happiness. This happy ending is really emotional and rewarding (and, yes, I teared up.) In the end, the lesson comes with the heart-breaking failure of the most worthy, most harshly-treated slaves, and this also is extremely affecting.

The book's style and use of phoenetic dialog made it a slow read for me, but I did enjoy it to the extent that one can enjoy reading about the disgusting, inhumane treatment of his fellow man. Recommended as an academic read.

No comments: