Narrative of the Life of Olaudiah Equiano / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Buy Used
Buy Used from
(Save 36%)
Item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging.
Condition: Used – Good details


The text of Equiano’s narrative presented here is that of the 1789 first edition.
It is accompanied by an introduction, maps, illustrations, and annotations. "Contexts" provides essential public writings on the autobiography, general and historical background, related travel and scientific literature, other eighteenth-century works by authors of African ancestry, and works debating the slave trade. "Criticism" includes six contemporary reviews and nine modern essays on the narrative by Paul Edwards, Charles T. Davis, Houston A. Baker, Jr., Angelo Costanzo, Catherine Obianju Acholonu, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Geraldine Murphy, Adam Potkay, and Robert J. Allison. A Chronology and Selected Bibliography are included.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Olaudah Equiano's 1789 narrative tells the remarkable story of his childhood in Africa, his kidnapping and subsequent years as a slave and seaman, and his eventual road to freedom in the Caribbean and in England. The text reprinted here is that of the 1789 first edition, along with explanatory notes. The book includes letters, essays, and other documents from the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as contemporary and modern criticism, plus a chronology. Sollors teaches English literature and Afro-American Studies at Harvard University, where he also chairs the Department of History of American Civilization. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393974942
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/28/2000
  • Series: Norton Critical Editions Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 511,491
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Werner Sollors is Henry B. and Anne M. Cabot Professor of English Literature and African American Studies at Harvard University. He previously taught at Columbia University, the Free University of Berlin, and the Università degli Studi di Venezia. He is the author of Ethnic Modernism, Neither Black Nor White Yet Both: Thematic Explorations of Interracial Literature, Beyond Ethnicity: Consent and Descent in American Culture, and Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones: The Quest for a “Populist Modernism.” His edited works include A New Literary History of America (with Greil Marcus), African American Literary Studies: New Texts, New Approaches, New Challenges (with Glenda R. Carpio), The Multilingual Anthology of American Literature: A Reader of Original Texts with English Translations (with Marc Shell), Multilingual America: Transnationalism, Ethnicity, and the Languages of America, The Return of Thematic Criticism, Theories of Ethnicity: A Classical Reader, The Invention of Ethnicity, and the Norton Critical edition of The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction ix
Acknowledgments xxxiii
Map: Equiano's World 2
Title page 5
Frontispiece 6
List of Subscribers 8
Contents of Volumes I and II 16
The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself 19
Note on the Text 179
Selected Variants 181
Additions 181
Selected Textual Differences between the First and Ninth Editions 189
Illustration: Nautical Terms 193
Related Public Writings
From Cursory Remarks [upon James Ramsay's Antislavery Writing] (1785) 195
Letter to James Tobin (January 28, 1788) 196
From Humanity; or, the Rights of Nature (1788) 199
Letter to the Author of the Poem on Humanity (June 27, 1788) 203
Illustration: "Description of a Slave Ship" 204
Letter to the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade (February 14, 1789) 205
General Background
From A Discourse upon the Origin and Foundation of the Inequality among Mankind (1755, transl. 1761) 206
Historical Background
[Humanitarianism, John Wesley, and Gustavus Vassa] 210
[The Nature of the Protest] 216
From Many Thousand Gone: The Ex-Slaves' Account of Their Bondage and Freedom 217
[The Rupture and the Ordeal] 222
Eighteenth-Century English Literature on Commerce and Slavery 228
Illustrations: I. Cruikshank, William Blake, and Anonymous 242
Travel and Scientific Literature
From Some Historical Account of Guinea (1771) 250
From A Voyage to the River Sierra-Leone (1788) 253
From Essay on the Causes of the Different Colours of People in Different Climates (1744) 256
Eighteenth-Century Authors of African Ancestry
[From A Narrative] (1770, 1774) 259
[A Captive of the Cherokees] (1785) 265
[Reflections and Memories] (1787) 269
The English Debate About the Slave Trade
From An Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, Particularly the African (1786) 277
Letter to William Wilberforce Commenting on Gustavus Vassa (February 24, 1791) 281
From Speech in the House of Commons (May 13, 1789) 282
From The 1791 Debate in the House of Commons on the Abolition of the Slave Trade 283
Antislavery Verse
From The Dying Negro (1773) 288
Early Reviews and Assessments
From the Monthly Review (1789) 295
From General Magazine and Impartial Review (1789) 296
"W." [May Wollstonecraft] [Review of The Interesting Narrative] (1789) 296
From Gentleman's Magazine (1789) 297
Vassa (1808) 298
[Olaudah Equiano] (1833) 301
Modern Criticism
From Introduction to The Life of Olaudah Equiano 302
From The Slave Narrative: First Major Art Form in an Emerging Black Tradition 338
From Figurations for a New American Literary History 339
From The Spiritual Autobiography and Slave Narrative of Olaudah Equiano 348
The Home of Olaudah Equiano--A Linguistic and Anthropological Search 351
From The Trope of the Talking Book 361
Olaudah Equiano, Accidental Tourist 368
From Olaudah Equiano and the Art of Spiritual Autobiography 382
Equiano's Narrative as an Abolitionist Tool 393
Olaudah Equiano: A Chronology 397
Selected Bibliography 401
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)