Interesting Narrative and Other Writings

ISBN-10: 0142437166
ISBN-13: 9780142437162
Edition: 2003 (Revised)
List price: $14.00
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Description: An exciting and often terrifying adventure story, as well as an important precursor to such famous nineteenth-century slave narratives as Frederick Douglass's autobiographies, Olaudah Equiano's Narrative recounts his kidnapping in Africa at the age  More...

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Book details

List price: $14.00
Copyright year: 2003
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 5/27/2003
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 432
Size: 5.00" wide x 7.50" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.770
Language: English

An exciting and often terrifying adventure story, as well as an important precursor to such famous nineteenth-century slave narratives as Frederick Douglass's autobiographies, Olaudah Equiano's Narrative recounts his kidnapping in Africa at the age of ten, his service as the slave of an officer in the British Navy, his ten years of labor on slave ships until he was able to purchase his freedom in 1766, and his life afterward as a leading and respected figure in the antislavery movement in England. A spirited autobiography, a tale of spiritual quest and fulfillment, and a sophisticated treatise on religion, politics, and economics, The Interesting Narrativeis a work of enduring literary and historical value.

One of the most remarkable figures in the history of African literature is Olaudah Equiano, who is also known as Gustavus Vassa. He was born into an Igbo community that he called Essaka, or most probably Isieke, in what is now the Ihiala local government area of the Anambra State of Nigeria. Captured and sold into slavery at the age of 12, he was taken to the West Indies. There he was resold to a British naval officer who helped him acquire an education and some nautical experience. When Equiano was beginning to consider himself a free man, he was unexpectedly sold again to a Philadelphia trader, for whom he undertook business trips to the West Indies. These trips enabled Equiano to make enough money to buy his freedom. As a free man, Equiano continued his vocation as a sailor and traveled extensively in Europe, Africa, and the Americas. He eventually joined the abolitionist movement in Great Britain, where he settled down as a respectable African European, married an English woman, and had two children. Equiano moved in high social circles, wrote and spoke frequently in various public media on abolition issues, and petitioned the British Parliament on the evils of slavery. But by far his most important contribution to the abolition movement was his autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself, which was first published in London in 1789. Not only was The Interesting Narrative an eloquent diatribe against the evils of slavery; its early chapters presented a thoroughly idyllic picture of the culture, social life, and geographical environment of his Igbo home, which he describes as "a charming, fruitful vale." In the autobiography, Equiano refutes the detractions of African peoples in European and oriental literatures, religious dogmas, and philosophical and ethnographic writings. He emerges as the first spokesperson of pan-African nationalism, black consciousness, negritude, and a whole range of other contemporary African and African American intellectual movements. The Narrative is a mixture of factual ethnographic and historical details, debatable assertions, and outright fallacies; it is as mystifying as it is revealing. So powerful is its eighteenth-century rhetorical style that, despite the assertion in its title that it was "written by himself," few of his white contemporaries were convinced that such elegant prose and humane sentiments could be written by an African.

Olaudah Equiano (1745-1797) was a former slave who became an outspoken opponent of the slave trade. Vincent Carretta is professor of English at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is the editor of the Penguin Classics editions of the "Complete Writings of Phillis Wheatley," "Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, an African," and "Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil of Slavery and Other Writings by Ottobah Cugoano,"

Introduction
A Note on the Text
A Note on Money
Suggestions for Further Reading
The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African. Written by Himself
Explanatory and Textual Notes
The Frontispieces and Title Pages of the First London (1789) and New York (1791) Editions
A Note on the Illustrations
List of Subscribers to the First Edition
List of Subscribers to the New York Edition
Correspondence and Other Writings of Gustavus Vassa, or Olaudah Equiano, Not Published in The Interesting Narrative
The Will and Codicil of Gustavus Vassa [Olaudah Equiano]
Names of Subscribers Appearing after the First Edition

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