Thursday, July 21, 2011

Opening Sentence of the Day: Uncle Tom's Cabin

Late in the afternoon of a chilly day in February, two gentlemen were sitting alone over their wine, in a well-furnished dining parlor, in the town of P__________ , in Kentucky.

-- Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe.

This is one of those classics I've never read, for one reason or another.  Even when I found the audiobook at the library several years ago, I loaded it on to my iPod and then ignored it.

But now's the time.  I am going to get this one finished, once and for all.  It shows up on several lists I'm working on: the College Board's Top 101, the Easton Press' 100 Greatest Books Ever, and the Daily Telegraph's 1899 List of 100 Best Novels in the World.

I'm now about a quarter of the way through it with mixed reactions.  One is how offensive it is to my modern sensibilities. I have a high tolerance for anachronistic literature, but Stowe's condescension is striking, no matter how well-intentioned.  My other reaction is how gosh darn entertaining this is.  Like any good potboiler, the action is non-stop.    


Sun Singer said...

I always wondered what the point was in not giving the entire name of the town.

Constance Reader said...

I have tried about 12 times so far to read this book and never made it...but you've inspired me to try again. Can't wait to read your thoughts when you're done!

Rose City Reader said...

Sun Singer: Nothing dates a book like those blank town names. I suppose they thought it gave the book an air of authenticity? Like it was a true story and the author was trying to protect identities?

Constance Reader: I almost gave up, but decided to give it 2 full disks. Then I decided I would listen to 1/3 and then take a break with another audiobook. But now I am 1/3 into it and enjoying it a lot more, so I just want to go straight through.

I recommend the audio version because it makes you keep moving right along and the reader does a great job making it lively with different voices and intonations.

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