It took me a few days to track down this book, but thankfully, Amazom.Com had it, and was able to send it to me within a few days. I picked it up, expecting to be a long, dry read as most of the fiction (not just slave narratives, mind you) has a tendency to take on such characteristics. Just the style of the period, I suppose.
Boy, was I surprised. Harriet Jacobs, writing under a pseudonym, published this book in 1861 after spending many, many years in hiding from her "master," Dr. Charles Flint, a lecherous, sexually-aggressive man determined to break her spirit. Seven years in a cramped, ten-by-seven foot attic crawlspace, however, did little to crush this woman, for she not only managed to escape North Carolina herself, but her children and uncle escaped as well. Her grandmother, freed when she was fifty years old upon the death of her mistress, died during Jacobs' exile in Boston.
What I most enjoyed about this text was its style and frankness with the material. Written as a part slave narrative, part journal, and part epistle to the reader, Incidents tells a remarkable tale of the callousness of white men to slaves, who were deemed subhuman and ignorant. Harriet Jacobs demonstrates an enormous capacity for intelligence through her careful, brutally honest memoirs. Although the names of friends, family, and enemies were changed, perhaps to protect the innocent, perhaps to protect the guilty, there is no doubt in my mind that the horrors Jacobs describes occurred, and while my family arrived in America at the early part of this century, I still experienced a great embarassment and shame. Not because I had anything to do with those horrid crimes. No... I feel shame because I know it still continues today, and it saddens my heart to know it will probably continue tomorrow.
Rest in peace, Harriet Jacobs.