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Harriet Beecher Stowe’s  unique novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was unprecedented for a reading and publishing phenomenon. Soon after it was published in the 1850s the book became a  sensation, the work became the second best-selling book in America during the nineteenth century.  It sold the greatest amount of copies except the Bible. In a statement nearly as famous as the one Lincoln is  supposed to have made about the novel—that it started the Civil War—Stowe claimed providential inspiration as the source of Uncle Tom’s Cabin: “I did not write it. God wrote it. I merely recorded His dictation.”
Readers throughout the nation, north and south, found themselves  deepened by the book in ways they had never before experienced. Charles Holbrook, a North Carolina teacher, described his reading experience by confessing in his journal that “the tears rushed into my eyes” when Little Eva died. “I believe it to be the most soul-stirring book I ever read.”  Characters took on a life of their own. Plot and narrative blossomed with almost uncontrollable vitality.
It was, in fact, the uncanny ability of Uncle Tom’s Cabin to ensnare readers in the most intimate and compelling concerns of its characters that made Stowe’s book so overwhelmingly popular. Southern editors decried the book, however, for one main  reason: its unscrupulous depiction of slave life enlisted sympathies on behalf of slaves through imaginative identification—an unfair tactic, it seemed to them, in the polemical war over abolition.
 At the height of segregation, the novel helped provide a literary and social history for the still recent slave past, enduring as a touchstone reading experience for African Americans well into the twentieth century. But one place the novel did not endure was the academy. For much of the twentieth century, Uncle Tom’s Cabin was seen by most literary professionals as a cultural embarrassment. The literary critic, J. W. Ward, wrote “The problem with Uncle Tom’s Cabin is how a book so seemingly artless, so lacking in literary talent, was not only an immediate success but has endured among common readers.”
This attitude would not begin to change until  the 1980s. During that decade feminist critics resurrected many overlooked masterpieces of sentimental fiction, hoping to discover an alternative tradition to the male-dominated “American Renaissance.”
Ultimately, the novel remains elusive, uncategorizable. Not entirely representative of any particular mode or genre,  Stowe wrote a novel that was the rarest of literary phenomena: a cultural sensation. Striking a responsive chord in innumerable readers at a flashpoint in history, the novel’s career in the social realm was  equally unpredictable as it was profound. If Stowe’s remarkable book set unrealistic expectations for subsequent generations about the extent to which fiction might effect social change, it also illustrates the latent, marvelous power of the novel.
6. Which choice combines and improves the underlined sentences most effectively?
8. Which choice most effectively establishes the main topic of this paragraph?
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