Almost a full decade before the American Civil War, Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe, helped generate the national debate over abolition. The story of Tom, a Kentucky slave who struggles to keep his family together, and the evil he encounters at the hands of white men like plantation owner Simon Legree, the novel initially appeared as a serial in the magazine National Era. Published in book form in 1852, it became one of the top-selling titles in the world in the 19th century.
In recent years Stowe has been blamed for introducing to our culture, however unintentionally, some incredibly durable racial stereotypes—the acquiescent Uncle Tom; the boisterous pickaninny—and the criticism has overshadowed her novel's many merits. Working to restore the book's reputation, author Henry Louis Gates Jr. and scholar Hollis Robbins have collaborated on The Annotated Uncle Tom's Cabin, which should reaffirm the narrative's place in the American literary canon. Using solid scholarship to provide an affectionate yet balanced evaluation of the work, Gates and Robbins co-wrote the notes and introduction of this lavish new edition. Featuring reproductions of original illustrations, their text is likely to become the final word on Stowe's groundbreaking book. Copyright 2006 BookPage Reviews.
Choice Reviews 2007 June
This is a gorgeous edition of Uncle Tom's Cabin: beautifully printed and illustrated; marginal annotations on almost every page; a good, brief history of the writing, reception, and critical history of the novel; and an introduction by Gates. Including many color plates and black-and-white drawings, the volume offers the most complete collection available of images from editions, plays, posters, paintings, comic books, adaptations, and parodies of the novel. Annotations explaining historical, political, and linguistic details are helpful, but the majority are overly aggressive in directing readers toward a particular interpretation of the text without reflecting current critical debates. In his introduction, Gates offers an original and illuminating dialogue with the devastating criticisms James Baldwin leveled against Stowe's book. However, much of the introduction is taken up with Gates's idiosyncratic (and arguably anachronistic) discussion of the sexuality he finds pervasive in Uncle Tom. Readers new to the novel will not get a sense, from this book, of the ongoing controversies in Uncle Tom scholarship. Summing Up: Recommended. All readers, all levels, with the above caveats. Copyright 2007 American Library Association.
Library Journal Reviews 2006 June #1
The estimable Henry Louis Gates Jr. refreshes Stowe's often disputed classic; with a six-city tour. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal Reviews 2006 September #2
Stowe's often-challenged novel gets the red-carpet treatment. This annotated version was edited by scholars Henry Louis Gates and Hollis Robbins, who also provide the introduction and notes. The text additionally is buttressed by 150 black-and-white illustrations and 32 pages of color artwork. One of the finest editions of this book to date.[Page 100]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.