The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). rn VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.XI. The Later Novel: Howells
§ 7. Dred
It has often been pointed out that Mrs. Stowe did not mean to be sectional, that she deliberately made her chief villain a New Englander, and that she expected to be blamed less by the South than by the North, which she thought peculiarly guilty because it tolerated slavery without the excuse either of habit or of interest. Bitterly attacked by Southerners of all sorts, however, she defended herself with A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin; Presenting the Original Facts and Documents upon which the Story is Founded (1853), and then, after a triumphant visit to Europe and a removal to Andover, essayed another novel to illustrate the evil effects of slavery especially upon the whites. Dred; A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp (1856) has had its critical partisans, but posterity has not sustained them. Grave faults of construction, slight knowledge of the scene (North Carolina), a less simple and compact story than in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and a larger share of disquisition,—these weigh the book down, and most readers carry away only fragmentary memories, of Dred’s thunderous eloquence, of Tom Gordon’s shameless abuse of his power as master, and of Old Tiff’s grotesque and beautiful fidelity.