American Captivity Narratives

ISBN-10: 0395980739
ISBN-13: 9780395980736
Edition: 2000
List price: $39.95 Buy it from $3.00
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Description: This volume collects a wide variety of works from a uniquely American literary tradition, the captivity narrative. Beginning with an excerpt from Hans Staden's The True History of His Captivity, which influenced the American captivity narrative,  More...

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Book details

List price: $39.95
Copyright year: 2000
Publisher: CENGAGE Learning
Publication date: 12/27/1999
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 464
Size: 5.75" wide x 8.50" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.990
Language: English

This volume collects a wide variety of works from a uniquely American literary tradition, the captivity narrative. Beginning with an excerpt from Hans Staden's The True History of His Captivity, which influenced the American captivity narrative, this volume presents accounts by early settlers held captive by Native Americans (Mary Rowlandson, John Smith), narratives by African American slaves (Olaudah Equiano, John Marrant), and others. Collected with the real-life accounts are two captivity poems by Lucy Terry and John Rolling Ridge, and several popular tales and legends on the subject.

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.

Captive to Cannibals Hans Staden, from
The True History of His Captivity(1557)
Saved by the Chief's Daughter Garcilaso de la Vega (The Inca), from
La Florida(1605) John Smith, from
The Generall History of Virginia(1624)
Jesuit Missionary Martyrs Isaac Jogues,Novum Belgium(1655) Christophe Regnaut, "A Veritable Account of the Martyrdom and Blessed Death of Father Jean de Breacute;beuf and of Gabriel Lalemant" (1649)
The Foundational Narrative of Mary Rowlandson Increase Mather, Preface to the Reader Mary Rowlandson,The Sovereignty and Goodness of God(1682)
Two Puritan Captivities as Told by Cotton Mather Cotton Mather, "A Notable Exploit" (1702) Cotton Mather, "A Narrative of Hannah Swarton" (1702) Henry David Thoreau, fromA Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers(1849)
Two African American Captives John Marrant,A Narrative of the Lord's Wonderful Dealings with John Marrant(1785) Olaudah Equian, fromThe Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano(1784)
A Prisoner of War Adopted by the Iroquois James Smith,An Account of the Remarkable Occurences in the Life and Travels of Col. James Smith(1799)
A Legend of the American Revolution Michel Reneacute; Hilliard d'Auberteuil,Miss McCrea: A Novel of the American Revolution(1784)
Two Captivity Poems Lucy Terry, "Bars Fight" (1855) John Rollin Ridge, "The Stolen White Girl" (1868)
Two Nineteenth-Century Popular Tales Anonymous, "The Indian Captive" fromColumbian Almanac(1838) Gertrude Morgan: Or Life and Adventures among the Indians of the Far West(1866)
A Captive Indian S.M. Barrett, fromGeronimo's Story of His Lift(1906)

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