NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)

Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!


Tuesday, February 17, 2009


by Harriet Beecher Stowe, edited with an introduction and notes by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Hollis Robbins

Uncle Tom's Cabin recounts the fates of a group of Kentucky slaves chosen to be sold to settle their owner's debts.

I had never read Uncle Tom's Cabin before, so my first experience was with this annotated edition. I loved the story, and while I started out loving the annotations also, I became less enamored with them as the book went on. Most of them were interesting, but quite a few were not usefully insightful. I already mentioned in a previous post about the annotations that were simply a note that the person writing the annotations found certain parts of the book boring. "My eyes glazed over" was noted a couple of times. Not to be disrespectful, but so what? One of the sections to which this was referring I actually found to be a fascinating exploration into the heart of Augustine St. Clare, the man who bought Uncle Tom from the slave trader. I wasn't bored at all, and I resented just a little bit the feeling of being "wrong" because I didn't agree with the scholar but I got over it. :-)

The other annotations I would disagree with were ones that pointed out the more awkward scene shifts employed by the author. Granted, they were rarely seamless, but that didn't bother me. After recently reading Richard Wright's Native Son, which provided virtually no tension-relief whatsoever, it was nice in Uncle Tom's Cabin to have those moments of informality after many emotionally-charged passages, to have a chance to exhale and absorb what I just read. If it wasn't written that way on purpose, I hope I someday can write half that effectively by accident!

Those couple of grumblings aside, I enjoyed the annotation experience and will definitely read that way again in the future. The extra factual information added dimension to the story I would have missed otherwise. However, I believe a reader would enjoy the book just as much without it. Whichever way you would choose to read Uncle Tom's Cabin, I don't think you can go wrong making time for this brave and beautiful classic.


Anna said...

I've always wanted to read this book. I started it in high school, but I couldn't get into it. I should probably give it another try. I've never read an annotated edition, so I don't know how I feel about those.

Diary of an Eccentric

Lezlie said...

Anna ~ I would not have appreciated this in high school, as is the case with so many classics. I hope you decide to try again! I have a couple more annotated editions of books lined up, so we'll see how those go. I'll keep you all posted. :-)


Ladytink_534 said...

I truly loved this one when I read it for the first time (middle school I think). Who cares what a so called "scholar" think anyway.

Shelley said...

Another one of my favorites! I remember reading the end of this by a campfire maybe 5 or 6 years ago.

Lezlie said...

Ladytink ~ :-)

Shelley ~ What a great place to read it! I can't wait until the weather lets me read out on the patio again. Sigh. . .


Teddy Rose said...

I'm one that gets quite annoyed with annotations. I find them very distracting and often not very useful. I'm glad you liked the book. I also enjoyed it.

Lezlie said...

Teddy Rose ~ I'll have to see how I feel about them once I have a few more under my belt.