Two articles in the NYT this weekend on race as seen through the lens of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. First a story of the book’s slow revival and then an essay on the tumultuous literary relationship between James Baldwin and Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Why would Baldwin, in his attack on Stowe, speak so harshly against the power of the fiction to persuade? Surely it was because he was, however unconsciously, speaking to his own deepest fears: that as a novelist, he was guilty of the very thing he disdained in Stowe. When Baldwin looked in the mirror of his literary antecedents, what he saw, to his horror, was Harriet Beecher Stowe in blackface.