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The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano (1789) (Broadview Literary Texts) [Paperback]

Olaudah Equiano , Angelo Costanzo

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Book Description

15 Feb 2001 Broadview Literary Texts
The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African was the first work that influenced the nineteenth-century genre of slave narrative autobiographies. Written and published by Equiano, a former slave, it became a prototype for those that followed.

Kidnapped in Africa as a child, Equiano was transported to the Caribbean and then to Virginia, bought by a Quaker shipowner, and placed in service at sea. Aboard various American and British ships, he sailed throughout the world, and he continued to do so after having purchased his freedom in 1766. Once settled in London, he fought tirelessly to end slavery.

This edition of Equiano’s Narrative places the text in the center of abolitionist activity in the late eighteenth century. Equiano knew many of the leading abolitionist figures of his time, and this edition allows readers to trace the common ideas and cross-influences in the works of the political and literary figures who fought for the end of slavery in America and England. The original 1789 text of the narrative has been used for the Broadview edition with Equiano’s subsequent emendations included in the appendices.

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"[T]his new edition of Equiano . . . will become the text of choice for both scholars and students of the Black Atlantic." -- African American Review

About the Author

Angelo Costanzo, Professor Emeritus of English, Shippensburg University, is one of the world's leading experts on Equiano. He has written on slave narratives and African-American literature, and is the author of Surprizing Narrative: Olaudah Equiano and the Beginnings of Black Autobiography.

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "A particular favorite of Heaven" 7 July 2010
By Patto - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Olaudah Equiano's book, published in 1789, is the first instance of a slave narrative combined with a spiritual autobiography. It was immensely influential in ending the slave trade in England and America, which finally happened a decade after his death.

Equiano's life story is astonishing, inspiring, often charming - and he tells it well. He has so many close calls with death that he seems quite justified in calling himself "a particular favorite of Heaven."

His homeland in West Africa sounds a bit like Eden. However, in this paradise, the natives make slaves of each other when either side loses a skirmish. Equiano was kidnapped by Africans when he was eleven years old, and so began his life of bondage.

Equiano is sold repeatedly, both by African and European masters. Thanks to his thirst for knowledge, he develops an amazing array of skills. He is in turn a clerk, a seaman, a merchant and a hairdresser, and acquires along the way a perfect command of English and a fine prose style. An accomplished entrepreneur, he eventually buys his own freedom.

In his travels around the world, as a valued slave and then a freedman, Equiano observes the shocking abuses experienced by less fortunate slaves, who are tortured, raped and murdered at will by their masters.

Equiano's life is so eventful that you can read it purely as an adventure story. More seriously, it's a reminder of a terrible chapter in human history. But the ex-slave himself sees the hand of God in everything. His spiritual quest intensifies with every misadventure that befalls him.

I found this book quite riveting, particularly the naval battles and shipwreck scenes! And I was grateful for the introduction, which puts this account into historical context and touches on scholarly debates about Equiano's life. Once again, Broadview has done a great job of presenting and explicating a classic.
5.0 out of 5 stars Satisfied! 23 Sep 2014
By Janis - Published on Amazon.com
expedited delivery. Item as described. Satisfied!
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book 28 Nov 2012
By KRONICkaren - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Love the service it was fast and arrived earlier than what I expected. Satisfaction guaranteed. I think it was a great deal!!
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