I Was Born a Slave : An Anthology of Classic Slave Narratives, 1770-1849

Overview

Between 1760 and 1902, more than 200 book-length autobiographies of ex-slaves were published; together they form the basis for all subsequent African American literature. I Was Born a Slave collects the 20 most significant “slave narratives.” They describe whippings, torture, starvation, resistance, and hairbreadth escapes; slave auctions, kidnappings, and murders; sexual abuse, religious confusion, the struggle of learning to read and write; and the triumphs and difficulties of life as free men and women. Many ...

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Overview

Between 1760 and 1902, more than 200 book-length autobiographies of ex-slaves were published; together they form the basis for all subsequent African American literature. I Was Born a Slave collects the 20 most significant “slave narratives.” They describe whippings, torture, starvation, resistance, and hairbreadth escapes; slave auctions, kidnappings, and murders; sexual abuse, religious confusion, the struggle of learning to read and write; and the triumphs and difficulties of life as free men and women. Many of the narratives—such as those of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs—have achieved reputations as masterpieces; but some of the lesser-known narratives are equally brilliant. This unprecedented anthology presents them unabridged, providing each one with helpful introductions and annotations, to form the most comprehensive volume ever assembled on the lives and writings of the slaves.

Volume One (1770-1849) includes the narratives of James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, Olaudah Equiano (Gustavus Vassa), William Grimes, Nat Turner, Charles Ball, Moses Roper, Frederick Douglass, Lewis & Milton Clarke, William Wells Brown, and Josiah Henson.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
With this compact set, editor Taylor, director of Lawrence Hill's "Library of Black America" series, offers an invaluable anthology of the dominant genre of early African American literature--the ex-slave autobiography. Taking as a title the five-word opening frequent in the genre, Taylor presents 20 unabridged first editions, supplying typographical corrections and annotations to persons, places, and terms. He introduces each selection with a brief head note providing an interpretive context as well as details on the author's life and the publication's history. His selections capture nine of the ten most referenced ex-slave narratives in U.S. history and offer two previously un-reprinted works. Scholars may contrast Taylor's introduction to the volumes with the more literary overview in Henry Louis Gates Jr. and William L. Andrews's Pioneers of the Black Atlantic: Five Slave Narratives from the Enlightenment, 1772-1815 (LJ 12/98). But nothing detracts from Taylor's care and skill in presenting this sampling of authentic American voices. No serious collection on U.S. history or literature, and certainly no collection on African Americans, can be without these two volumes. Highly recommended.--Thomas J. Davis, Arizona State Univ., Tempe Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
In the second of two volumes, Taylor (director of the Library of Black America series) collects the ten most significant slave narratives published as books or pamphlets between 1849 and 1866. The stories present a full and detailed picture of slavery<-->the whippings, torture, starvation, resistance, and hairbreadth escapes; slave auctions, kidnappings, and murders; sexual abuse, religious confusion, the struggle to learn to read and write; and the triumphs and difficulties of life as free men and women. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556523311
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/28/1999
  • Series: The Library of Black America series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 832
  • Sales rank: 564,128
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.59 (d)

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