Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

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Overview

Harriet Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is one of the most compelling accounts of slavery and one of the most unique of the one hundred or so slave narratives -- mostly written by men -- published before the Civil War.

The child and grandchild of slaves -- and therefore forbidden by law to read and write -- Harriet Jacobs was defiant in her efforts to gain freedom and to document her experience in bondage. She suffered physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her...

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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview

Harriet Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is one of the most compelling accounts of slavery and one of the most unique of the one hundred or so slave narratives -- mostly written by men -- published before the Civil War.

The child and grandchild of slaves -- and therefore forbidden by law to read and write -- Harriet Jacobs was defiant in her efforts to gain freedom and to document her experience in bondage. She suffered physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her master at the age of eleven. In 1842, she fled North and joined a circle of abolitionists that worked for Frederick Douglass's newspaper. In 1863, she and her daughter moved to Alexandria, Virginia, where they organized medical care for Civil War victims and established the Jacobs Free School.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A viable alternative to male save narratives. The specific problems faced by female slaves are clearly portrayed."--Ray Doyle, West Chester Univ.

"My personal favorite...Jacobs confronts the contradictions inherent in the category 'the black woman writer.' By engaging these issues and negotiating a course through them, she anticipates the literary and ideological position of subsequent generations of black women writers."--Jean Fagan Yellin, The Washington Post Book World

"A corrective to those who have identified the slave narrative primarily as a male genre....This particular edition, with its introduction by Valerie Smith, sheds new light on the choices its heroine Linda Brent makes."--The Women's Review of Books

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781618951083
  • Publisher: Bibliotech Press
  • Publication date: 6/20/2013
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 800,780
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

Harriet Jacobs was born a slave in North Carolina around 1813 and became a fugitive in the 1830s. She died in 1897.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 404 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(189)

4 Star

(99)

3 Star

(67)

2 Star

(26)

1 Star

(23)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 407 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 10, 2010

    Surprised

    I chose the book because it was a great deal, and I figured this is a topic I could definitely stand to know more about; but I was surprised to find that Harriet Jacobs was a woman I felt I could relate to, regardless of the centuries and culture gap between us. She writes with passion and intelligence, and her revelations of the cruelty of the slave trade are tempered with anecdotes of familial love and the kindness of others who are sympathetic to the plight of the slaves. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl reads as easily as Jane Eyre and if you are interested in narratives involving slavery, women in the 1800's, or simply a story about someone who clings to the hope of a better life and will suffer almost anything to achieve it, this book is worth your time.

    43 out of 43 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 31, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    This is the story of a true hero.

    Linda's story is one of the most inspiring stories that I have ever read. When I was done with this book I felt proud to be a woman of African descent. Though I still do not understand how something as foul as the institution of slavery could have been allowed to exist for so long, this story speaks of the unbreakable spirit of my ancestors, their unyielding drive to rise above their oppressors, their unwillingness to succumb if only in their minds and hearts to the absurd notion that they were just a piece of property.

    Linda's decision to focus on her children, educate them, and free them; her decision to let go of the unattainable idea of marriage in the presence of a predatory slave master speaks to her resilience, superb intellect, and the power of the human mind.

    This is an easy read though I had to stop a couple of times to wrap my mind around some of the atrocities being described.

    16 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2008

    The most compelling slave narrative I have read to date!

    I loved this book! This is the third slave narrative I have read this year, and this is the most compelling and endearing by far! The novel intertwined the narrative voice of a slave woman with the sense of sentimentality that was predominant in novels of the period. I would definitely recommend this novel to other readers of ethnically-influenced literature.

    16 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 31, 2009

    Reminder of History

    Easy read and very informative. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in America's past.

    13 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2006

    An Amazing Autobiography

    This is a book you can't put down. I was amazed how well written the book was. This is the true story of a women with integrity and decency who is forced to live a life of abuse, humiliation and fear. I gained an insight into slavery that I never had before.

    11 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2006

    Incidents in the life of a Slave Girl, by Harriet Jacobs writing as Linda Brent

    I really enjoyed the book. I think that is crazy how someone can go through so much hardship and still have the courage to write about it and share it with the world. I like the intensity of the book and the commitment she had for getting her children and herself free, and how she went about doing it, how she became involved with another white man to get him to escape her own master and get the freedom she dreamed of.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2009

    Very enlightening and well written book

    When I purchased "Incidents in the life of a Slave Girl" I did not know what to expect. From the first few pages I was impressed with how well organized and easy to read the Narrative was. I highly recommend this book not just for those interested in books focusing on African American Studies, but for anyone interested in reading an original story of a Slave girl living in the anteblellum South. If you like Frederick Douglass's Narrartive, you certainly find Harriet Jocabs just as fascinating.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2006

    great book

    i had to read this for class i would read it again for leisure. the only reason i dont give it more stars is because the way it is written is more autobiographical though she fictionalizes her name so as not to point at her identity directly. but this is a great book about the life of a slave girl, right up there with douglas. though douglas's is better.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 18, 2011

    the Reality of Slavery in America

    This book is written by a woman who although born a "slave" in America was determined to have freedom and equality for herself and her children. She suffered many hardships and acts of cruelty towards herself and her children but never saw herself as a "victim." Indeed, she saw herself as an equal to all other women and even to men! She was intelligent and blessed with wisdom and foresight and much of her life was spent trying to obtain freedom for herself and her children. This book is a "must read" for those who believe that slaves in America were treated as "children" and "family" by their masters. It is a strong reality check of what the truth was back then and gives insight into the strength and power of love for God, oneself and real family.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2006

    GOOD BOOK

    i had to read this book for school and i really liked it!!!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 3, 2010

    one of the most intriguing characters I have ever read about

    what a mother won't do for her children. how very sad a story of life during slavery and the treachery that was bestowed on a race of people.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2010

    Gives An Incite of slavery

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book as it gave me a better understanding of what atrocities and sufferings slaves had to deal with. Even when they risked their lives to travel up North, and when they arrived there they were still treated with such indignities. It was even more compelling at how a black woman at this time was able to put into words her story and to have it published; that was, at that time, unheard of. Especially knowing it was against the law for a black person to learn to read or write.

    I highly recommend this book to anyone who would like to get a better understanding of this horrific time in US history

    CL10801

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 17, 2010

    Amazingly written account

    I truly treasure this piece. Harriet Jacobs is eloquent and altogether bewitching in her narrative. I could not put it down. This is for certain one of my favorite books of all time. For me, I found her tone, narrative, and description just right. It is an important book that I think should be required for middle school students to read.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2010

    Absolutely amazing.

    This was a hard one to put down. As a mother, I could truly relate to just how powerful and motivating a mother's love for her children can be.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 18, 2009

    Amazing historical value, as well as an easy and enchanting read

    Harriet Jacobs writes to us from a place in history most of us have never been exposed to. Without such notable classics with which to enlighten our limited experience, none of us would be able to continue conversing upon controversial subject matter as we pull forward into this century. My immediate response when I turned the last page was...'oh, wish I had not read so swiftly!!'...

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2008

    A Memorable and Horrifyingly Realistic Read

    Human bondage is a scar on our nation¿s history. It tore through the land of America as wildfire would thrash ravenously through sun-dried hills during summer. Yet, despite the complaints of slavery sprinkled throughout the history books of our contemporary era, nothing can be a more wretchedly vibrant window into the procedure of slavery than a first-hand account. `Incidents in the life of a Slave Girl¿ has the remarkably real abilities of a fictitious time machine, transporting the reader back through the centuries to the desolate routine of one whose spirit has been tied by the will of another, an equal human. Throughout the course of the book, the reader is acquainted with the characters, and forms a virtual friendship with such heroes of the fictitiously represented past. A must read for those eager to view the past through real, human eyes, `Incidents¿ will forever grace your bookshelf with vivid memories, and the inspiring story of good finally triumphing over a heartless, evil grasp.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2008

    Wonderful

    This is such an exquisite read. I finished it in less than a day because I couldn't put it down. Marvelous!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 1, 2013

    Very good read!

    Offers an insight on the slave's point of view. A bit hard to take in at times, though.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 25, 2014

    A compelling read--you won't be disappointed.

    This was one of the most well written books regarding slavery that I have ever read. You are hearing the story through the life of one slave who wanted nothing more than freedom for herself and later on, for her children. I was saddened by the cruelty of mankind even though I have always known there was a great deal of cruelty dealt out to the slave(s) from their "owner".
    I admire this woman's bravery and perseverance so very much, I have to ask myself this question--Would I have had the courage to do the same and could I have loved enough to endure the horrendous conditions that she did? If you read this slave's story you will be asking yourself some of the same questions and admiring this woman more with every turn of the page.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2013

    Rare insight, emotionally moving

    Rare autobiographical insight into the lives and experiences of American slaves. It seems slaves have not received enough formal recognition or respect for founding the USA and providing the labor and economic basis for the nation.
    As i am not aware of any museums or parts of the USA that are preserved to specifically commerate this history, i am thankful to learn from this record. The book shared many new concepts and occurances that i was not knowledgable of.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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