Harriet Beecher Stowe was appalled by slavery, and she took one of the few options open to nineteenth century women who wanted to affect public opinion: she wrote a novel, a huge, enthralling narrative that claimed the heart, soul, and politics of millions of her contemporaries. Uncle Tom’s Cabin paints pictures of three plantations, each worse than the other, where even the best plantation leaves a slave at the mercy of fate or debt. Her questions remain penetrating even today: “Can man ever be trusted with wholly irresponsible power?”
First published more than 150 years ago, this monumental work is today being reexamined by critics, scholars, and students. Though “Uncle Tom” has become a synonym for a fawning black yes-man, Stowe’s Tom is actually American literature’s first black hero, a man who suffers for refusing to obey his oppressors. Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a living, relevant story, passionate in its vivid depiction of the cruelest forms of injustice and inhumanity-and the courage it takes to fight against them.
The Ignatius Critical Editions represent a tradition-oriented alternative to popular textbook series such as the Norton Critical Editions or Oxford World Classics, and are designed to concentrate on traditional readings of the Classics of world literature. Whereas many modern critical editions have succumbed to the fads of modernism and post-modernism, this series will concentrate on tradition-oriented criticism of these great works. Edited by acclaimed literary biographer, Joseph Pearce, the Ignatius Critical Editions will ensure that traditional moral readings of the works are given prominence, instead of the feminist, or deconstructionist readings that often proliferate in other series of ‘critical editions’. As such, they represent a genuine extension of consumer-choice, enabling educators, students and lovers of good literature to buy editions of classic literary works without having to ‘buy into’ the ideologies of secular fundamentalism. The series is particularly aimed at tradition-minded literature professors offering them an alternative for their students. The initial list will have about 15 – 20 titles. The goal is to release three books a season, or six in a year.