Completely revised and edited with an introduction and notes by Vincent Carretta
An exciting and often terrifying adventure story, as well as an important precursor to such famous nineteenth-century slave narratives as Frederick Douglass's autobiographies, Olaudah Equiano's The Interesting Narrative recounts his kidnapping in Africa at the age of ten, his service as the slave of an officer in the British Navy, his ten years of labor on slave ships until he was able to purchase his freedom in 1766, and his life afterward as a leading and respected figure in the antislavery movement in England. A spirited autobiography, a tale of spiritual quest and fulfillment, and a sophisticated treatise on religion, politics, and economics, The Interesting Narrative is a work of enduring literary and historical value.
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About the Author
Olaudah Equiano (1745-1797) was a former slave who became an outspoken opponent of the slave trade.
Vincent Carretta is professor of English at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is the editor of the Penguin Classics editions of the Complete Writings of Phillis Wheatley, Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, an African, and Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil of SLavery and Other Writings by Ottobah Cugoano.
Table of Contents
A Note on the Text
A Note on Money
Suggestions for Further Reading
The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African. Written by Himself
Explanatory and Textual Notes
Appendix A: The Frontispieces and Title Pages of the First London (1789) and New York (1791) Editions
Appendix B: A Note on the Illustrations
Appendix C: List of Subscribers to the First Edition
Appendix D: List of Subscribers to the New York Edition
Appendix E: Correspondence of Gustavus Vassa, or Olaudah Equiano, Not Published in The Interesting Narrative
Appendix F: The Will and Codicil of Gustavus Vassa (Olaudah Equiano)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Equiano is an engaging sort with an artless yet shrewd means of delivering a fascinating life story--captured as a Niger Basin lad by neighbouring peoples, traded as a slave from village to village until--shit!--he came to the sea and got snapped up by the whites (and the first rule of being a slave is you do not wanna be owned by the white man); then off to the New World, where you add some European cultural mores to your natural acuity, go back to London and then all over the world as manservantslave to a succession of self-interested but mostly unmalicious--sometimes even decent!--masters. You get shipwrecked off the Bahamas, party with Miskito people on a Jamaican plantation, see Smyrna, fail to find the Northeast Passage (1), eventually buy your freedom, and rise in the world as a sea captain and later exec director of a failed slave resettlement effort in Sierra Leone. You do it all under the constant threat of white rapacity and impunity--guys are always taking your bag of oranges or kidnapping you and selling you into slavery again, and it doesn't matter that you're a free man or civil servant or whatever--your only recourse is the kindness of random humane whites. You take advantage of it, cannily presenting yourself as pious, unassuming, soft and possessed of all the Christian virtues, almost too much, almost with a grovel-flourish before a white God, but also with an effort to model the putative British virtues--plainspokenness, bravery, self-regard--and chastise the whites for constantly failing to live up to them themselves in a way that veers between righteous and sanctimonious, even passive-aggressive.
Not a good look at the typical slave experience, but an intriguing depiction of what it took to get ahead in the whitemansiest of all white man's world. And his poetry will cut you to the quick.
Mr. Equiano's story of his own enslavement, life as a slave, and eventual emancipation. Fascinating in its subject and execution, Mr. Equiano's story is one of real life adventure and spirituality that brings both slavery and the British Emancipation efforts to life.
You cannot keep a good man down! This guy always bounced back...His treatment even as a slave was pretty good when away from the W Indies but all slaves, and also free blacks were treated abominably there. Whole chapter about his discovery of grace and personal assurance. Little about resentments... Amazing man, sickening fellow men.