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Uncle Tom's Cabin continues to provoke impassioned discussions among scholars; to serve as the inspiration for theater, film, and dance; and to be the locus of much heated debate surrounding race relations in the United States. It is also one of the most remarkable print-based texts in U.S. publishing history. And yet, until now, no book-length study has traced the tumultuous publishing history of this most famous of antislavery novels. Among the major issues Claire Parfait addresses in her detailed account are the conditions of female authorship, the structures of copyright, author-publisher relations, agency, and literary economics. To follow the trail of the book over 150 years is to track the course of American culture, and to read the various editions is to gain insight into the most basic structures, formations, and formulations of literary culture during the period. Parfait interrelates the cultural status of this still controversial novel with its publishing history, and thus also chronicles the changing mood and mores of the nation during the past century and a half.
Scholars of Stowe, of American literature and culture, and of publishing history will find this impressive and compelling work invaluable.
Claire Parfait is Professor of American Studies at Universite Paris 13, France