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The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself (Norton Critical Editions) Paperback – 14 Feb 2001

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; New Ed edition (14 Feb. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393974944
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393974942
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.5 x 21.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 324,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Once you have become accustomed to Equiano's propensity for highly detailed, tangetial anecdotes, this personal and insightful slave narrative offers intrigue and emotion. The true basis of the first-hand account provides the reader with an accessible and fast-moving understanding of many aspects of the slave-trade, including Equaino's own perspective on British National Identity in the eighteenth century. The flowing structure of the novel and Equiano's direct address to the reader makes this a compelling read and an amenable route into the study of the slave-trade.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x8db34c30) out of 5 stars 6 reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d9ff690) out of 5 stars Teachers beware--poorly proofread edition! 12 April 2005
By Len V - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This review is neither of Equiano's text itself, nor of the editorial material (both are excellent for teaching). When I ordered this text for my class, I was dismayed to discover numerous proofreading errors which generated some confusion among students. These tend not to be mispellings, but much worse: substitutions of one word for another, or omissions of important words, as though the whole text had only been run through a spell-checker. Some of these are embarrassing (Equiano's report of "the mortifying circumference of not daring to eat with the free-born children" [33-34]) and others more serious (the omitted word in the crucial sentence "I own offer here the history of neither a saint, a hero, nor a tyrant" in the first paragraph). There is probably one major error for every page of this text. I don't think this has to do with fidelity to the London first edition of 1789, although I haven't checked. The errors seem to have been introduced at Norton. So, sadly, despite Werner Sollors's excellent introduction and the useful maps prefacing the text, I can't recommend this book until Norton gets its act together. Use the texts in either Henry Louis Gates's "Pioneers of the Black Atlantic" or Vincent Carretta's "Unchained Voices" instead--the notes to the latter make it the teaching edition of choice.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d9ff8dc) out of 5 stars Interesting indeed, an amazing account of an unusual life 16 July 2002
By Ein Kunde - Published on
Format: Paperback
"The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudiah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, The African, written by Himself" is the story of an African man, Olaudiah Equiano (slave name: Gustavus Vassa) who was (evidently) born in 1745 in what is now Nigeria. He was captured by African slave traders, taken to the Atlantic coast, and sold into the slave trade. He was taken to the Caribbean, then Virginia, and eventually Europe. He served a ship's captain and sailed the Mediterranean and on a voyage to explore the North Pole (Greenland). He obtained his freedom and became an author and early anti-slavery activist. The publication of this book made him the best-selling black African author ever (up to that time). This book became a prototype of the "up-from-slavery" autobiography (typified by Frederick Douglass) and is a classic among Atlantic slave narratives.
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.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d9ffb1c) out of 5 stars A true disaster! 20 Sept. 2011
By Mandy Nel - Published on
Format: Paperback
Arrrgggrrh! I am going to teach this text tomorrow and now looked again wistfully at some of the errors I had seen earlier and had forgiven. I saw a "new" one now that I simply cannot forgive! In making a crucial distinction between slavery in his homeland and slavery in the West Indies, Equiano said in the original and all other versions: "...they do no more work than other members of the community." In Sollors's Norton Critical Edition, that becomes "...they do more work than other members of the community," a complete opposite that radically inverts the meaning. This is truly horrible. It didn't make sense in context, thank heavens, so an attentive person would immediately be suspicious.
HASH(0x8d9ffe7c) out of 5 stars Four Stars 14 Jan. 2016
By mestrand - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d9ffc30) out of 5 stars Quintessence 24 Jan. 2013
By natasha Gonsalez - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wonderful timing, quick and professional. I highly recommend anyone this seller. No complaints. Very quick and diligent. I ordered these for my classes and it all worked out for the best. Thank YOu
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