Pub. Date:
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reprint)

View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for delivery by Thursday, September 23


This Modern Library Paperback Classics edition combines the two most important African American slave narratives into one volume.

Frederick Douglass's Narrative, first published in 1845, is an enlightening and incendiary text. Born into slavery, Douglass became the preeminent spokesman for his people during his life; his narrative is an unparalleled account of the dehumanizing effects of slavery and Douglass's own triumph over it.

Like Douglass, Harriet Jacobs was born into slavery, and in 1861 she published Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, now recognized as the most comprehensive antebellum slave narrative written by a woman. Jacobs's account broke the silence on the exploitation of African American female slaves, and it remains crucial reading. These narratives illuminate and inform each other. This edition includes an incisive Introduction by Kwame Anthony Appiah and extensive annotations.

Related collections and offers

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345478238
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/28/2004
Series: Modern Library Classics
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 156,469
Product dimensions: 4.17(w) x 6.84(h) x 1.02(d)
Lexile: 1080L (what's this?)

About the Author

Kwame Anthony Appiah teaches at Princeton University. His works include In My Father’s House and Cosmopolitanism.


Tuckahoe, Maryland

Date of Birth:


Date of Death:

February 20, 1895

Place of Death:

Washington, D.C.

Reading Group Guide

1. In what ways do you think the abolitionist movement speaks to or even defines the social climate described by both Douglass and Jacobs?

2. Literacy plays a key role in Frederick Douglass's journey to freedom. Discuss other factors in his emancipation. What role does violence play, for example?

3. Were the slaveholders justified in their assessment of the lives of Northern factory workers? Discuss.

4. How is Douglass's narrative affected by the omission of his actual escape? Why do you think he does this?

5. Discuss the narratives of both Douglass and Jacobs in view of conventional literary biographies. How do the recordings of their experiences differ, if at all?

6. Discuss the role of religion as described by Douglass and Jacobs. What belief systems does each embrace?

7. Is the kind of escape discussed by Douglass even possible for Jacobs? How does her gender shape her experience of slavery?

8. What is the significance of Jacobs's status as a mulatto? How does this inform her experience?

9. Do Douglass and Jacobs depict the black family as disrupted by the institution of slavery? How do families cope? Discuss.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews