Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass An American Slave

ISBN-10: 0440222281
ISBN-13: 9780440222286
Edition: 150th (Anniversary)
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Description: Born a slave in Maryland circa 1817, Frederick Douglass went on to become the most influential and distinguished African American of the nineteenth century. As an abolitionist, newspaper publisher, orator and statesman, Douglass dedicated his life  More...

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Book details

List price: $6.99
Edition: 150th
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 1/2/1997
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 176
Size: 4.25" wide x 7.00" long x 0.50" tall
Weight: 0.198
Language: English

Born a slave in Maryland circa 1817, Frederick Douglass went on to become the most influential and distinguished African American of the nineteenth century. As an abolitionist, newspaper publisher, orator and statesman, Douglass dedicated his life to the triumph of freedom over oppression for all black Americans. Published shortly after his escape from slavery, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave became an immediate bestseller in 1845 and is still the most widely read slave narrative in American history. A piercing denounciation of slavery, the Narrative mobilized masses of people for the abolitionist cause. But the Narrative is also a deeply personal memoir in which Douglass chronicles his childhood years of deprivation and brutality, his efforts to teach himself to read (teaching a slave to read was illegal in the South), and his dangerous fligth to freedom in 1838. In his insightful introduction, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. celebrates the 150th anniversary of the book's publication and offers a fresh perspective on what the Narrative means today. The comprehensive bibliography lists the body of literature devoted to Douglass's life and writings. Already a staple for many courses in American literature and history, this edition is enhanced by Professor Gates's introduction and bibliography, and will be a must have for all readers of American literature.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was born on September 16, 1950, in Keyser, West Virginia. He received a degree in history from Yale University in 1973 and a Ph.D. from Clare College, which is part of the University of Cambridge in 1979. He is a leading scholar of African-American literature, history, and culture. He began working on the Black Periodical Literature Project, which uncovered lost literary works published in 1800s. He rediscovered what is believed to be the first novel published by an African-American in the United States. He republished the 1859 work by Harriet E. Wilson, entitled Our Nig, in 1983. He has written numerous books including Colored People: A Memoir, A Chronology of African-American History, The Future of the Race, Black Literature and Literary Theory, and The Signifying Monkey: Towards a Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism. In 1991, he became the head of the African-American studies department at Harvard University. He is now the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at the university. He wrote and produced several documentaries including Wonders of the African World, America Beyond the Color Line, and African American Lives. He has also hosted PBS programs such as Wonders of the African World, Black in Latin America, and Finding Your Roots.

Born a slave in Maryland in about 1817, Frederick Douglass never became accommodated to being held in bondage. He secretly learned to read, although slaves were prohibited from doing so. He fought back against a cruel slave-breaker and finally escaped to New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1838 at about the age of 21. Despite the danger of being sent back to his owner if discovered, Douglass became an agent and eloquent orator for the Massachusetts Antislavery Society. He lectured extensively in both England and the United States. As an ex-slave, his words had tremendous impact on his listeners. In 1845 Douglass wrote his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, which increased his fame. Concerned that he might be sent back to slavery, he went to Europe. He spent two years in England and Ireland speaking to antislavery groups. Douglass returned to the United States a free man and settled in Rochester, New York, where he founded a weekly newspaper, The North Star, in 1847. In the newspaper he wrote articles supporting the antislavery cause and the cause of human rights. He once wrote, "The lesson which [the American people] must learn, or neglect to do so at their own peril, is that Equal Manhood means Equal Rights, and further, that the American people must stand for each and all for each without respect to color or race." During the Civil War, Douglass worked for the Underground Railroad, the secret route of escape for slaves. He also helped recruit African-Americans soldiers for the Union army. After the war, he continued to write and to speak out against injustice. In addition to advocating education for freed slaves, he served in several government posts, including United States representative to Haiti. In 1855, a longer version of his autobiography appeared, and in 1895, the year of Douglass's death, a completed version was published. A best-seller in its own time, it has since become available in numerous editions and languages.

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