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    Monday, October 23, 2006

    Cabin Fever

    Leave it to Henry Louis Gates to resurrect Uncle Tom's Cabin, one of my favorite all-time novels, from the swamp of denigration.

    His essay and Edward Rothstein's on the new Annotated Uncle Tom's Cabin for which I've been waiting and over which I'm now salivating.

    The blurb:

    Declared worthless and dehumanizing by James Baldwin in 1949, Uncle Tom's Cabin has lacked literary credibility for fifty years. Now, in a ringing refutation of Baldwin, Henry Louis Gates Jr. demonstrates the literary transcendence of Harriet Beecher Stowe's masterpiece. Uncle Tom's Cabin, first published in 1852, galvanized the American public as no other work of fiction has ever done. The editors animate pre-Civil War life with rich insights into the lives of slaves, abolitionists, and the American reading public. Examining the lingering effects of the novel, they provide new insights into emerging race-relation, women's, gay, and gender issues. With reproductions of rare prints, posters, and photographs, this book is also one of the most thorough anthologies of Uncle Tom images up to the present day. 2-color throughout; 32 pages of color illustrations, 150 black-and-white illustrations.

    [Gates works with Hollis Robbins on the project (they also worked together on a great book of essays on Hannah Crafts's The Bondswoman's Narrative.]

    Oh, and he's giving a lecture on his work with the text at the NYPL on Wed, Nov 26!


    Blogger kactus said...

    you know I've never read Uncle Tom's Cabin. Really the little I know of it is from the scene in The King and I where the King's wives do the play. That makes me feel very unread, but it's not surprising with a book that has fallen so far into disfavor.

    That being said, though, I'm a huge fan of Gates after his documentary series Wonders of the African World.

    3:51 PM  
    Blogger EL said...

    Actually Kactus, as you say, relatively few people actually read it anymore because it's so very maligned. I meet a ton of people in grad school for English that haven't read it - the majority of people who aren't 19th century Americanists.

    If you do check it out, I'd love to hear from you on it.

    8:58 PM  
    Blogger kactus said...

    This makes me think of the recent Banned Books Week--some of the books (I think probably Huck Finn is the first that comes to mind) were banned mostly for racist content, weren't they? And that makes me wonder where you draw the line between a book that's good but was written in a far different time and place, and whether censorship is still justified. I dont' think censorship is ever justified, myself, but I would be uncomfortable reading Huck Finn aloud to my daughter.

    1:36 AM  
    Blogger zp said...

    And how is THIS post related to the consequences or possibilities for privileged white feminism?

    And I'm now 'saving' my NYT articles in their system. Have you tried this? And does it prevent articles from expiring on me?

    10:06 AM  
    Blogger Joseph Duemer said...

    Well, Baldwin was certainly right about the novel in his time, but then we no longer read the same UTC now as Baldwin read in 1949, Just as Baldwin didn't read the same novel that HBS wrote (and Americans read) in the middle of the 19th century. So, if Gates indeed "refutes" Baldwin, he is reading ahistorically. And someone as smart as Gates ought to know better.

    10:33 AM  
    Blogger Thin Black Duke said...

    Interesting. While I do take issue with some parts of the book (I've written one essay on it, which was for the most part critical), I agree that overall it is overly maligned, especially since few people have read it these days. (Yes, I'm a 19th century Americanist half of the time). I haven't read it in several years though. I think it's time for a reread.

    Kactus - Huck Finn is unjustly called racist for accurately (through satire) depicting racism. They are not the same thing. I've heard and seen the same arguments against writers like Toni Morrison and it all boils down to people assuming that accurate depiction equals endorsement.

    6:25 PM  
    Anonymous Luke said...

    EL? Are you there? :/

    10:16 AM  
    Blogger Sly Civilian said...

    Long time, no see...

    Hope things are well.


    8:42 AM  
    Blogger belledame222 said...

    also checking in; your presence is missed.

    and wishing you a Happy New Year.

    9:31 AM  
    Anonymous Bitch | Lab said...

    hey el -- been meaning to check in. i figured the new job, school, teaching etc got the best of you so I didn't want to bug yah. but i finally decided that yet another look at my feed to see nothing meant that it was high time to drop in and say, "yo!"

    i hope things are going OK. let us know if you get a chance.

    3:34 PM  
    Anonymous Bitch | Lab said...

    date: 01/07/2007 -- just for the record. will check in again.

    3:35 PM  
    Anonymous fiercelyfab said...

    hope all is well, been missing ya too.

    8:18 PM  
    Blogger zp said...

    It goes with out saying, dear.

    A friend explained to me that the modernist ur-text for American Psycho was J. Alfred Prufrock. I thought you might appreciate this and even tried to email you.

    Best wishes, regardless.

    12:19 PM  
    Blogger Sage said...

    Hope all is well.

    6:54 AM  
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    Blogger belledame222 said...

    -tap tap tap- Hey, EL. You around? Been getting some hits from these parts lately. You've been missed.


    11:49 AM  
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    Since it is the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.............................................

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