Sexual Fables

This article accompanies the fable
Letters from Africa

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom’s Cabin was the best-selling American novel of the 19th century after the Bible.  It was no fault of the novel that the Reconstruction era parodied it in tacky burlesques or that Black American critics like James Baldwin raged at its paternalism.  Uncle Tom was not a cliché in 1852.

Nowadays it is possible to discover a steamy sexual sub-text running throughout the novel, which recalls that northern critiques about southern slavery at the time often focused on the white masters exploiting their female slaves for sex.  A cynic would say that people always read into things what they want for themselves, which is why, eventually, we had Mandingo (1975).


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