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Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave Written By Himself Paperback – May 29, 2013
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From School Library Journal
Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The book indeed has elements of a disguise and of a novel. Jacobs never uses her real name but calls herself instead "Linda Brent." The other characters in the book are also given pseudonyms. Jacobs tells us in the Preface to the book (signed "Linda Brent") that she changed names in order to protect the privacy of indiduals but that the incidents recounted in the narrative are "no fiction".
Jacobs was born in slave rural North Carolina. As a young girl, she learned to read and write, which was highly rare among slaves. At about the age of 11 she was sent to live as a slave to a doctor who also owned a plantation, called "Dr. Flint" in the book.
Jacobs book describes well the cruelties of the "Peculiar Institution -- in terms of its beatings, floggings, and burnings, overwork, starvation, and dehumanization. It focuses as well upon the selling and wrenching apart of families that resulted from the commodification of people in the slave system. But Jacobs' book is unique in that it describes first-hand the sexual indignities to which women were subjected in slavery. (Other accounts, such as those of Frederick Douglass, were written by men.Read more ›
It is one thing to hear about how slaveholders took liberties with female slaves, it is quite another to read in stark detail about women being commanded to lay down in fields, young girls being seduced and impregnated and their offspring sold to rid the slaveholder of the evidence of his licentiousness. The author talks about jealous white women, enraged by their husbands' behavior, taking it out on the hapless slaves. The white women were seen as ladies, delicate creatures prone to fainting spells and hissy fits whereas the Black women were beasts of burden, objects of lust and contempt simultaneously. Some slave women resisted these lustful swine and were beaten badly because of it. It was quite a conundrum. To be sure, white women suffered under this disgusting system too, though not to the same degree as the female slaves who had no one to protect them and their virtue. Even the notion of a slave having virtue is mocked.Read more ›
Reading Frederick Douglass, however, makes me wonder how anyone with firsthand knowledge of the institution could not see the obvious pain and cruelty which existed right in front of his or her eyes. Douglass's narrative, and particularly his descriptions of the slave trade in Baltimore and the obvious place of the whip (whether used or not) as the principal vehicle of social control argues most eloquently that though the slave system may have been a social norm, the blinders had to be unbelievably thick not to see the horrors that the institution wrought. The relationship of slave and master perpetuated a most un-American (at least in terms of our professed values--cf. Douglass's later antislavery orations) tyranny and oppression. Douglass's narrative testifies that our ancestors could have seen much more and done much more and that 600,000 lives and a subsequent 120 years of racial schism and pain was too much a price to bear for the peculiar institution.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
For a slave to write in this format is awesome to me. Great read.Published 11 hours ago by marisa robinson
I really enjoyed this book. It made me mad and sad and glad all at the same time. Here is one man I would love to sit and converse with.Published 3 days ago by Paty
I love the book because the person was there an no guessing straight forward great book.Published 8 days ago by Amazon Customer
Yes it did, it helped me a lot and thank u for your concerns😎Published 12 days ago by Amazon Customer
Sometimes 19th century writing can be difficult to get through, but this was an easy read. The subject matter is so moving that I'm going to require my two teenagers to read this.Published 13 days ago by Robert Adams
I liked hearing the story of what it was really like living in slavery, especially written by a woman.Published 14 days ago by Nancy Gipson