The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself (Norton Critical Editions) Paperback – 14 Feb 2001
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About the Author
Werner Sollors is Henry B. and Anne M. Cabot Professor of English Literature and African American Studies at Harvard University. He previously taught at Columbia University, the Free University of Berlin, and the Universita degli Studi di Venezia. He is the author of Ethnic Modernism, Neither Black Nor White Yet Both: Thematic Explorations of Interracial Literature, Beyond Ethnicity: Consent and Descent in American Culture, and Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones: The Quest for a "Populist Modernism." His edited works include A New Literary History of America (with Greil Marcus), African American Literary Studies: New Texts, New Approaches, New Challenges (with Glenda R. Carpio), The Multilingual Anthology of American Literature: A Reader of Original Texts with English Translations (with Marc Shell), Multilingual America: Transnationalism, Ethnicity, and the Languages of America, The Return of Thematic Criticism, Theories of Ethnicity: A Classical Reader, The Invention of Ethnicity, and the Norton Critical edition of The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself.
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The book is autobiographical and arranged chronologically, the author detailing events of his African childhood and his years as a slave and eventual self-emancipation. One notable thing about the book is the extent to which it is a travelogue: Equiano clearly enjoys telling travel tales more than decrying the horrors of slavery. His depictions of being a "stranger in a strange land" (e.g., the first time he encounters a clock, a painted portrait, books) are memorable.
The Norton edition is filled with related texts pertaining to Equiano and his times: articles and excerts by other writers about Africa, slavery, abolition, Equiano's birthplace, his literary influences; a useful map; a diagram of a sailing ship, etc. A good choice among several editions of Equiano's book.
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