First there is this from The Writer's Almanac, a brief snippet that pulled me out of my morning doldrums and motivated me to make this abbreviated posting:
Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (books by this author) began its serial run in abolitionist newspaper the National Era on this date in 1851. It ran in weekly installments for 10 months. It generated some interest among opponents to slavery, but it didn't reach a larger audience until it was republished as a book in 1852.
Many critics dismissed the novel as sentimental, and several characters gave rise to persistent stereotypes of African-Americans. Even so, it attracted thousands of Northerners to the abolitionist cause. The book sold 300,000 copies in the United States in its first year in print.
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And there is this personal postscript:
I remember dragging myself through Stowe's over-blown novel years ago in graduate school, and I recall that I thought the novel was at once one of the best (for its time) and one of the worst (for all times) I ever encountered. If I were to succumb to this morning's impulse, one of many impulses that plague my day-to-day existence and befuddle my Swiss-cheese brain, I would download a public domain Kindle copy and attempt reading Stowe's epic again. On the other hand, life is far too short and Stowe's novel is far too long, so I will skip the rereading attempt because I can think of far better ways to spend my precious commodity: time.
Well, enough of my meandering stream of consciousness and unsubstantiated gripes about what I think is an over-rated "great American novel." So I close this brief posting with a few conversation provoking questions:
Have you read Uncle Tom's Cabin?
What do you think?
Is my superficial assessment fair and accurate?
Perhaps you can think of other so-called "great American novels," paradoxical renderings that are among the best and the worst.
Let's discuss the issues.