Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (Oxford World's Classics)

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9780192832504: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (Oxford World's Classics)

"I was born in Tuckahoe. I have no accurate knowledge of my age, never having seen any authentic record containing it. By far the larger part of the slaves know as little of their ages as horses know of theirs, and it is the wish of most masters within my knowledge to keep their slaves thus ignorant."

So begins the now-classic personal account of Frederick Douglass (1818-1895), who was born into slavery in Maryland and after his escape to Massachusetts in 1838 became an ardent abolitionist and campaigner for women's rights. His Narrative, which was an instant bestseller upon publication in 1845, relates his experience as a slave, the cruelty he suffered at the hands of his masters, his struggle to educate himself, and his fight for freedom.

Written with much passion, and with no small degree of striking biblical imagery, the Narrative came to assume epic proportions as a fundamental anti-slavery text, an accessible record in which the author had carefully crafted both his life story and his persona. The introduction and notes for this new edition fully examine Douglass--the man and the myth--while also considering both his complex relationship with women and the enduring power of his autobiography. Other highlights include extracts from Douglass's primary sources and examples of his writing on women's rights.

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Book Description:

Douglass escaped slavery in 1838 and became a tireless campaigner for abolitionism. This autobiography lays bare the realities of slavery in antebellum America. The eloquence of Douglass' writing, with an immediacy and honesty found shocking at the time, make this an invaluable record of one of humanity's most shameful acts.

From the Publisher:

Born a slave in Maryland circa 1817, Frederick Douglass went on to become the most influential and distinguished African American of the nineteenth century. As an abolitionist, newspaper publisher, orator and statesman, Douglass dedicated his life to the triumph of freedom over oppression for all black Americans.

Published shortly after his escape from slavery, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave became an immediate bestseller in 1845 and is still the most widely read slave narrative in American history. A piercing denounciation of slavery, the Narrative mobilized masses of people for the abolitionist cause. But the Narrative is also a deeply personal memoir in which Douglass chronicles his childhood years of deprivation and brutality, his efforts to teach himself to read (teaching a slave to read was illegal in the South), and his dangerous fligth to freedom in 1838.

In his insightful introduction, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. celebrates the 150th anniversary of the book's publication and offers a fresh perspective on what the Narrative means today. The comprehensive bibliography lists the body of literature devoted to Douglass's life and writings.

Already a staple for many courses in American literature and history, this edition is enhanced by Professor Gates's introduction and bibliography, and will be a must have for all readers of American literature.

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