Wylder's Hand

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Overview

A lost classic by one of the 19th century's most prominent writers of ghost stories and suspense novels
 
The Wylders and the Brandons share a history of intermarriage, bitter rivalry, villainy, and madness. The wedding of Mark Wylder to his rich and beautiful cousin, Dorcas Brandon, was to inaugurate a harmonious new era at Brandon Hall—but as the ceremony draws near, Mark disappears without trace, leaving Dorcas in shock, and the ...

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Wylder's Hand

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Overview

A lost classic by one of the 19th century's most prominent writers of ghost stories and suspense novels
 
The Wylders and the Brandons share a history of intermarriage, bitter rivalry, villainy, and madness. The wedding of Mark Wylder to his rich and beautiful cousin, Dorcas Brandon, was to inaugurate a harmonious new era at Brandon Hall—but as the ceremony draws near, Mark disappears without trace, leaving Dorcas in shock, and the assembled family in a state of severe agitation. When Mark’s letters arrive back at the Hall, postmarked from Europe, the sinister figure of Captain Stanley Lake emerges from the wings to claim Dorcas as his own. First published in 1864, Wylder’s Hand was one of J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s most popular novels, but has been largely neglected, until now. It is a nerve-jangling tale of jealousy and murder, for fans of the grisly and gripping.

A guide to reading "Uncle Tom's Cabin" with a critical and appreciative mind encouraging analysis of plot, style, form, and structure. Also includes background on the author's life and times, sample tests, term paper suggestions, and a reading list.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The master of mystery and horror."  —Dorothy L. Sayers

"He succeeds in inspiring a mysterious terror better than any other writer."  —M. R. James, author, Casting the Runes

"The Simenon of the peculiar."  —V. S. Pritchett, author, London Perceived

From Barnes & Noble
The narrative drive of Stowe's classic novel is often overlooked in the heat of the controversies surrounding its anti-slavery sentiments. In fact, it is a compelling adventure story with richly drawn stories & has earned a place in both literary & American history.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781843549093
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books
  • Publication date: 7/1/2011
  • Series: Crime Classics Series
  • Pages: 502
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

J. Sheridan Le Fanu (1814–1873) was the premier ghost story writer of the 19th century and had a seminal influence on the development of this genre in the Victorian era. His best-known works are the novel Uncle Silas and the novella Carmilla, a lesbian vampire story which greatly influenced Bram Stoker. Robert Giddings is an eminent literary critic who reviews for such publications as the Guardian, the New Statesman, and the Sunday Times.

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Read an Excerpt

Late in the afternoon of a chilly day in February, two gentlemen were sitting alone
over their wine, in a well-furnished dining parlor, in the town of P—, in Kentucky.
There were no servants present, and the gentlemen, with chairs closely
approaching, seemed to be discussing some subject with great earnestness.

For convenience sake, we have said, hitherto, two gentlemen. One of the parties,
however, when critically examined, did not seem, strictly speaking, to come under
the species. He was a short, thick-set man, with coarse, commonplace features, and
that swaggering air of pretension which marks a low man who is trying to elbow his
way upward in the world. He was much over-dressed, in a gaudy vest of many
colors, a blue neckerchief, bedropped gayly with yellow spots, and arranged with a
flaunting tie, quite in keeping with the general air of the man. His hands, large and
coarse, were plentifully bedecked with rings; and he wore a heavy gold
watch-chain, with a bundle of seals of portentous size, and a great variety of colors,
attached to it,—which, in the ardor of conversation, he was in the habit of
flourishing and jingling with evident satisfaction. His conversation was in free and
easy defiance of Murray's Grammar, and was garnished at convenient intervals with
various profane expressions, which not eventhe desire to be graphic in our account
shall induce us to transcribe.

His companion, Mr. Shelby, had the appearance of a gentleman; and the
arrangements of the house, and the general air of the housekeeping, indicated easy,
and even opulent circumstances. As we before stated, the two were in the midst of
an earnest conversation.

'That is the way I should arrange the matter,' said Mr. Shelby.

'I can't make trade that way—I positively can't, Mr. Shelby,' said the other, holding
up a glass of wine between his eye and the light.

'Why, the fact is, Haley, Tom is an uncommon fellow; he is certainly worth that sum
anywhere—steady, honest, capable, manages my whole farm like a clock.'

'You mean honest, as niggers go,' said Haley, helping himself to a glass of brandy.

'No; I mean, really, Tom is a good, steady, sensible, pious fellow. He got religion at
a camp-meeting, four years ago; and I believe he really did get it. I've trusted him,
since then, with everything I have,—money, house, horses,—and let him come and
go round the country; and I always found him true and square in everything.'

'Some folks don't believe there is pious niggers, Shelby,' said Haley, with a candid
flourish of his hand, 'but I do. I had a fellow, now, in this yer last lot I took to
Orleans—'twas as good as a meetin', now, really, to hear that critter pray; and he was
quite gentle and quiet like. He fetched me a good sum, too, for I bought him cheap
of a man that was 'bliged to sell out; so I realized six hundred on him. Yes, I consider
religion a valeyable thing in a nigger, when it's the genuine article, and no mistake.'

'Well, Tom's got the real article, if ever a fellow had,' rejoined the other. 'Why, last
fall, I let him go to Cincinnati alone, to do business for me, and bring home five
hundred dollars. 'Tom,' says I to him, 'I trust you, because I think you're a
Christian—'I know you wouldn't cheat.' Tom comes back, sure enough; I knew he
would. Some low fellows, they say, said to him—'Tom, why don't you make tracks
for Canada?' 'Ah, master trusted me, and I couldn't'—they told me about it. I am sorry
to part with Tom, I must say. You ought to let him cover the whole balance of the
debt; and you would, Haley, if you had any conscience.'

'Well, I've got just as much conscience as any man in business can afford to
keep,—just a little, you know, to swear by, as 'twere,' said the trader, jocularly; 'and
then, I'm ready to do anything in reason to 'blige friends; but this yer, you see, is a
leetle too hard on a fellow—a leetle too hard.' The trader sighed contemplatively, and
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Table of Contents

I. In which the Reader is introduced to a Man of Humanity 1
II. The Mother 9
III. The Husband and Father 12
IV. An Evening in Uncle Tom's Cabin 16
V. Showing the Feelings of Living Property on changing Owners 25
VI. Discovery 32
VII. The Mother's Struggle 39
VIII. Eliza's Escape 49
IX. In which it appears that a Senator is but a Man 61
X. The Property is carried off 74
XI. In which Property gets into an Improper State of Mind 82
XII. Select Incident of Lawful Trade 93
XIII. The Quaker Settlement 106
XIV. Evangeline 113
XV. Of Tom's new Master, and various other Matters 121
XVI. Tom's Mistress and her Opinions 134
XVII. The Freeman's Defence 148
XVIII. Miss Ophelia's Experiences and Opinions 161
XIX. Miss Ophelia's Experiences and Opinions, continued 174
XX. Topsy 189
XXI. Kentuck 201
XXII. "The Grass withereth--the Flower Fadeth" 205
XXIII. Henrique 211
XXIV. Foreshadowings 217
XXV. The Little Evangelist 222
XXVI. Death 226
XXVII. "This is the Last of Earth" 237
XXVIII. Reunion 243
XXIX. The Unprotected 255
XXX. The Slave Warehouse 261
XXXI. The Middle Passage 269
XXXII. Dark Places 274
XXXIII. Cassy 281
XXXIV. The Quadroon's Story 287
XXXV. The Tokens 295
XXXVI. Emmeline and Cassy 300
XXXVII. Liberty 305
XXXVIII. The Victory 310
XXXIX. The Stratagem 318
XL. The Martyr 326
XLI. The Young Master 332
XLII. An Authentic Ghost Story 337
XLIII. Results 342
XLIV. The Liberator 348
XLV. Concluding Remarks 351
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Reading Group Guide

1. Charles Dudley Warner wrote in an 1896 essay (see Commentary section, above) that "Distinguished as the novel is by its character-drawing and its pathos, I doubt if it would have captivated the world without its humor." What is the role of humor in Uncle Tom's Cabin?

2. Given that the cabin is featured only briefly in the novel, why do you think the book is called Uncle Tom's Cabin?

3. Uncle Tom's Cabin draws on modes, such as the jeremiad,
allegory, and prophecy, that were commonly used by New England writers in the nineteenth century whose literary predecessors were eighteenth-century theologians and preachers (for example, Cotton Mather and Jonathan Edwards). How do these elements function in the novel? What role do the Bible and biblical allusion play (there are at least seventy allusions to, or quotations from, the Bible in the novel)?

4. What is the purpose of the two plots (the story of Uncle Tom, on the one hand, and that of the Harrises, on the other)?

5. What is the significance of the repetition of names (e. g., there are two Toms, two Georges, two Henrys [Henrique and Harry])?

6. Ever since the publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin, critics have debated whether its sentimentality undermines its abolitionist purpose. James Baldwin, for example, in a famous essay called "Everybody's Protest Novel" (see Commentary section, above), argued that "Uncle Tom's Cabin is a very bad novel, having, in its self-righteous, virtuous sentimentality, much in common with Little Women. Sentimentality, the ostentatious parading of excessive or spurious emotion, is the mark of dishonesty, the inability to feel;the wet eyes of the sentimentalist betray his aversion to experience, his fear of life, his arid heart, and it is always, therefore, the signal of secret and violent inhumanity, the mask of cruelty." Kenneth Lynn, on the other hand, claims that "Uncle Tom's Cabin is the greatest tear-jerker of them all, but it is a tear-jerker with a difference: it did not permit its audience to escape reality. Instead the novel's sentimentalism continually calls attention to the monstrous actuality which existed under the very noses of its readers. Mrs. Stowe aroused emotions not for emotion's sake alone-as the sentimental novelists notoriously did-but in order to facilitate the moral regeneration of an entire nation." Which side do you take in this debate?

7. A related question concerns the artistic merit of the novel, with one side arguing that while Uncle Tom's Cabin was historically and politically significant, it is not a literary masterpiece (owing, among other things, to its sentimentality), and the other side claiming that it is aesthetically valuable (so James Russell Lowell wrote in 1859, "It was so easy to account for the unexampled popularity of 'Uncle Tom' by attributing to it a cheap sympathy with sentimental philanthropy" but, he continues, "we had the advantage of reading that extraordinary book in Europe, long after the whirl of excitement produced by its publication had subsided, and with a judgement undisturbed by those political sympathies which it is impossible, perhaps unwise, to avoid at home. We felt then, and we believe now, that the secret of Mrs. Stowe's power lay in that same genius by which the great successes in creative literature have always been achieved-the genius that instinctively goes to the organic elements of human nature, whether under a white skin or a black, and which disregards as trivial the conventions and factitious notions which make so large a part both of our thinking and feeling"). Do you think the novel is a successful work of art or not?

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2012

    Thought it could use a rating

    Just bein' nice, nevr read it

    1 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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