A comparison of Edward Windsor Kemble's illustrations for the first edition of Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884––85) and for an 1891 edition of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) shows that Kemble could render enslaved African Americans or impoverished European Americans as delineated individuals or as stereotypical figures, as he catered to audiences that had a stake in seeing these characters as unique personalities or as racialized "types." Marketing Twain's and Stowe's novels for mass audiences, Kemble mediated between literary authors who invest marginalized characters with distinct personalities and empowered, mainstream audiences who were less willing to accept individuality in minority figures. Kemble was not the egregiously racist exception for his time, but a reliable rule for the mainstream American publishing establishment; he typified Gilded Age readers who enjoyed the privileges of purchasing, reading, and illustrating literary representations of marginalized subjects——subjects who clearly did not enjoy such social privileges themselves. When Kemble takes artistic liberties in illustrating literary representations of slavery, then, he demonstrates graphically how Gilded Age readers were taking their own liberties reinterpreting these stories of slaves.
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