Monday, October 23, 2006

Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever - Books - Review - New York Times: "In a scathing 1949 critique, “Everybody’s Protest Novel,” Baldwin boldly linked the sentimentality of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” to the melodrama of Richard Wright’s 1940 novel “Native Son,” a work far more appealing to black power types. “Uncle Tom” had become such a potent brand of political impotence that nobody really cared how far its public usages had traveled from the reality of its literary prototype.

Manichean simplicity is a central feature of some of Baldwin’s own work, like the plays “The Amen Corner” and “Blues for Mr. Charlie” and the novels “Another Country” and “Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone.” The suppleness of his prose gives way to stereotypical depictions of two-dimensional characters, both black and white — individuals who seem to exist as set pieces for ideological diatribes rather than nuanced explorations of their full humanity."

Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the W. E. B. Du Bois professor of the humanities at Harvard. He is the editor, with Hollis Robbins, of the forthcoming “Annotated Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” from which this essay is adapted, and the author of “Finding Oprah’s Roots,” to be published in February.

Comments from the vigilante:
"The prblem of master-slave won't go away, as it is in history. Hegel and Marx could wipe it only by wiping the past. So much of the past also has good and god in it. Gates uses a simple term but powerful description- manichaean simplicity. Yes, the dual category of master slave does not begin to explain the problem. Adoor made a movie elipathayam, i believe, which made the same point. Thought you may read this and react. "

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