With the world in general and the US in particular going somewhat crazy (something that started gradually decades ago and is accelerating now), I was curious about Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which was written during troubled and racist times like these…
The seeds for the novel were planted during the 1830s and 1840s when she heard tales about slavery, then blossomed after the fugitive slave acts were passed in 1850. She based the novel on tales and a few writings by runaway slaves, and sold it as a serialized novel for $600 (not a tiny sum in 1850). It was a success, and published as a novel that was also a phenomenal and immediate success – in the North, the average person could picture slavery beyond the speeches, and in the South Stowe was called slanderous and a liar, but both northerners and southerners read her book, and it was published in virtually every language across the world. Like Common Sense in 1776, Uncle Tom’s Cabin’s influence in the right time and right place is hard to overstate. Stowe became a celebrity, and moved after The Civil War to Florida, where in her old age she likely suffered from Alzheimer’s before dying in 1895(?).
I’m very interested in reading this book! I’ve reserved the audiobook from the library. There are several people who’ve reserved the book before me (i.e. there is a wait list), which is wonderful!
At 48 years of age, finally read Of Mice and Men on the recommendation of daughter L. In short, loved it. Like so many of the classics, it made me think, and did it in less than 100 pages.
The book follows giant but simple Lenny and small but cynical George, two drifters who have signed on to work on a farm. We learn that Lenny is a good person but has a long history of hurting things, and there is foreshadowing by the way he inadvertantly kills mice, how the two men are on the run after Lennie inappropriate touched and scared a woman, and how George tells Lennie where they’ll meet if anything bad happens.
We gradually meet the work men on the farm, all down-and-out and flawed men (and the new bride) in the early 20th century who are essentially alone and scared in the world, and cautious with each other. GEorge more or less befriends one of the men, and they plan to buy a farm together, with the three men living and working on the land. We also get a taste of foreshadowing when a beloved dog who was once a great sheep herder (just like Lennie is a great farm worker) but now too old to be of use is shot in the back of the head.
Later, Lennie — like he has done before — inadvertently kills the young bride of the boss’s pugnacious son and flees into the hills. The three men’s dream of owning a farm is now over, and George concludes that Lennie will always be a risk to people of the world. George finds him in their previously agreed upon hiding spot, and shoots Lennie in the back of the head, like the old dog earlier in the story.
It is a heartbreaking story that seems to capture friendship, pity, loneliness and the life of a poor working class American 100+ years ago. It is a story worth reading.