LC: 2012032683 PS
136 PP. 6 X 9 6 B/W ILLUS.
E-BOOK $17.95 ISBN 978-0-299-29293-5
“An important and fascinating piece
of work with a contribution to make
in several fields, including Russian
and American literary and cultural
history, the history of the book,
translation, and European cosmo-
Sarah Meer, author of
Uncle TomMania
“There is no work of scholarship that so thoroughly and confidently mea-
sures Mrs. Stowe’s footprint on Russian political and intellectual life.”
Dale Peterson, author of
Up from Bondage: The Literatures of Russian and African
American Soul
Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 antislavery novel
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
was the nine-
teenth century’s best-selling novel worldwide; only the Bible outsold it. It was
known not only as a book but through stage productions, films, music, and com-
mercial advertising as well. But how was Stowe’s novel—one of the watershed
works of world literature—actually received outside of the American context?
True Songs of Freedom
explores one vital sphere of Stowe’s influence: Russia and
the Soviet Union, from the 1850s to the present day. Due to Russia’s own tradition
of rural slavery, the vexed entwining of authoritarianism and political radicalism
throughout its history, and (especially after 1945) its prominence as the super-
power rival of the United States, Russia developed a special relationship to Stowe’s
novel during this period of rapid societal change.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
widespread reflections on the relationship of Russian serfdom to American slav-
ery, on the issue of race in the United States and at home, on the kinds of writing
appropriate for children and peasants learning to read, on the political function
of writing, and on the values of Russian educated elites who promoted, discussed,
and fought over the book for more than a century. By the time of the Soviet
Union’s collapse in 1991, Stowe’s novel was probably better known by Russians
than by readers in any other country.
John MacKay examines many translations and rewritings of Stowe’s novel; plays,
illustrations, and films based upon it; and a wide range of reactions to it by figures
famous (Leo Tolstoy, Ivan Turgenev, Marina Tsvetaeva) and unknown. In track-
ing the reception of
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
across 150 years, he engages with debates
over serf emancipation and peasant education, early Soviet efforts to adapt Stowe’s
deeply religious work of protest to an atheistic revolutionary value system, the
novel’s exploitation during the years of Stalinist despotism, Cold War anti-
Americanism and antiracism, and the postsocialist consumerist ethos.
John MacKay
is professor of Slavic and East European languages and literatures
and film studies and chair of the film studies program at Yale University. He is
author of
Inscription and Modernity: From Wordsworth to Mandelstam
and editor
and translator of
Four Russian Serf Narratives
O f r e l a t e d i n t e r e s t
“The narratives are fascinating in their own
right; the addition of the wide-ranging intro-
duction and thorough historical notes make
Four Russian Serf Narratives
an important
volume for anyone interested in the study of
unfree labor.”
Anne Hruska,
Slavic and East
European Journal
LC: 2009008140 HT 256 PP. 6 × 9
11 B/W ILLUS., 1 MAP
E-BOOK $14.95 ISBN 978-0-299-23373-0
Wisconsin Studies in Autobiography
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