Equiano, the African: Biography of a Self-Made Man

Equiano, the African: Biography of a Self-Made Man

by Vincent Carretta

Paperback(Reprint)

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Overview

This definitive biography tells the story of the former slave Olaudah Equiano (1745?-97), who in his day was the English-speaking world’s most renowned person of African descent. Equiano’s greatest legacy is his classic 1789 autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African. A key document of the early movement to ban the slave trade, it includes the earliest known firsthand description by a slave of the horrific Middle Passage from Africa to the Americas. Equiano, the African is filled with fresh revelations about this many-sided figure—most notably that Equiano may have been born not in Africa, as he claimed, but in South Carolina.

For Vincent Carretta, such disconnects between the public persona and actual life of Equiano only increase his importance as a window into a number of complex, overlapping worlds. Equiano was a sailor, adventurer, entrepreneur, and jack-of-all-trades. Carretta distills years of scholarly detective work on Equiano’s life and writings into a richly textured portrait of the man whose many transformations took him from slave to slave trader to anti-slave-trade advocate, and from pagan to Christian.

This is “life and times” history at its best. Throughout, Carretta relates The Interesting Narrative to the historical record on Equiano, as well as to the century’s economic, political, and religious undercurrents. Carretta argues that Equiano may have fabricated his African roots and his survival of the Middle Passage not only to sell more copies of his book but also to help advance the movement against the slave trade. Equiano, the African will leave readers with a fuller appreciation of the man’s achievements and a deeper understanding of race and slavery in the Atlantic world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143038429
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/30/2007
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 464
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

VINCENT CARRETTA is a professor of English at the University of Maryland. He is the author or editor of more than ten books, including scholarly editions of the writings of Olaudah Equiano, Phillis Wheatley, Ignatius Sancho, and Ottobah Cugoano. His most recent books are Equiano, the African: Biography of a Self-Made Man, winner of the Annibel Jenkins Prize, and The Life and Letters of Philip Quaque, the First African Anglican Missionary, coedited with Ty M. Reese (both Georgia).

Table of Contents

Equiano, the AfricanList of Illustrations
Preface
Acknowledgments
Note on Money
Chapter One. Equiano's Africa
Chapter Two. The Middle Passage
Chapter Three. At Sea
Chapter Four. Freedom Denied
Chapter Five. Bearing Witness
Chapter Six. Freedom of a Sort
Chapter Seven. Toward the North Pole
Chapter Eight. Born Again
Chapter Nine. Seeking a Mission
Chapter Ten. The Black Poor
Chapter Eleven. Turning against the Slave Trade
Chapter Twelve. Making a Life
Chapter Thirteen. The Art of the Book
Chapter Fourteen. A Self-Made Man
Notes
Bibliography
Index

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

An intriguing piece of detective work. (The Washington Post)

Masterful . . . offers not only the definitive biography of Equiano but also a first-rate social history of the late eighteenth century. (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

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