Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

An American Slave

Book - 2009
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'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 thusignorant.'Thus begins the autobiography 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 became an instant bestseller on publication in 1845, describeshis life as a slave, the cruelty he suffered at the hands of his masters, his struggle to educate himself and his fight for freedom. Passionately written, often using striking biblical imagery, the Narrative came to assume epic proportions as a founding anti-slavery text in which Douglass carefullycrafted both his life story and his persona.This new edition examines Douglass, the man and the myth, his complex relationship with women and the enduring power of his book. It includes extracts from Douglass's primary sources and examples of his writing on women's rights.
Publisher: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2009.
ISBN: 9780199539079
0199539073
Branch Call Number: B Douglass, Frederick
Characteristics: xxxiv, 129 p. ; 20 cm.

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pacl_teens Jul 23, 2020

The autobiography “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass” is a description of the early life of Frederick Douglass, an influential writer, abolitionist, and former slave who lived during the 1800s. The autobiography captures the early memories of Frederick Douglass, from his distant relationship with his mother to the hardships he faced in slavery and finally to a brief glimpse into his life after he escaped from slavery.

Even through the most shocking and horrifying experiences, Douglass writes in a factual tone and narrates his story in a voice that is neither dry nor humorous. This book sheds light on brutal and inhumane treatment of slaves, and describes the turning points in his life, such as when he first learned to read and discovered what the abolitionist movement was. Douglass also points out the hypocrisy of Christian slaveholders, writing in the appendix, “They strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.” This sentence underlies the themes running under the narrative, including ones of religious influence on cruelty, the importance of education, and what it means to be human.

This book was influential to the course of history and exists as a firsthand account of what slavery was really like. It was eye-opening and a glimpse into America’s past. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about American history.
-Valerie, Grade 11

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anonymouse1
Jul 22, 2020

Chronology is a great feature of this 2014 paperback!
Following the full text of the 1845 Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave is a 29-page Chronology with the first eight pages detailing events up to the publication of the original 1845 Narrative, and the remainder adding accounts for all subsequent years up to the death of Frederick Douglass in 1895.

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ryankegley
Mar 02, 2020

What adjectives can yet be left to extoll upon Frederick Douglass’s 1845 “Narrative”? Eloquent, penetrating, harrowing, profound, inspirational … It is all these and infinitely more. What makes his story so powerful, however, is the clarity, the starkness, the frank, candid nature of his prose. Dramatic though the events of his life were, this is not a tale dramatically told. But neither is it cold and unemotional. Rather, Douglass speaks plainly — and movingly — of the events of his life, the horrors of slavery to which he was both witness and victim, the effects of the institution on slave and slaveholder alike, and the hypocrisy of a Christian religion that abides it.

I have but two small gripes. First, considering its publication just seven years after escaping bondage, Douglass’s status as a fugitive slave, and his desire to protect himself and those who might otherwise be adversely affected by the disclosure of certain details, there is an unwanted amount of self-redaction throughout. Douglass makes clear the reasons for this, all wholly warranted and understandable, but that doesn’t keep them, including the story of his escape and journey from Maryland to New York, from being missed. Second, I’m no melodramatist, but there was a part of me that longed for Douglass to abandon his measured tone and raise his voice, to scream out, lash out, wail and rage against his oppressors, against the system, against those who would rather turn a blind eye.

Of course, that would have been a colossal blunder, and both Douglass and his publishers no doubt understood this. As it happened, “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave” became one of the most influential pieces of literature to fuel the abolitionist movement. It remains to this day an essential read, not just for a historical understanding of the atrocities of slavery, but for the stirring account of one man’s capacity to overcome.

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BigJ2468
Nov 07, 2018

it wes a good book and i wood recommend it

z
Zekdeck
Nov 07, 2018

it was good. i find leaning about this time period interesting.

y
YoutillaGamer
Nov 07, 2018

I thought the book was very inspiring and had a good message. Fredrick's life was something I thought about for days and how some of the problems he was struggling with is what some black men in America still deal with today. The way the book was written and worded was very well done too. He didn't sugar code anything, and basically just said "this is what happened and this is true." The way he learned to read and build himself into a self made man was incredible. I loved the book and would definitely read more by him/about him.

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DEATHNINJA64
Nov 07, 2018

i didnt like it tho ive read like 10 books on this dude so that might have a affect.and audiobook man was monotone.

k
KRShrader
Nov 07, 2018

This book, while painfully honest, is a viewpoint on American Slavery that everyone needs to see. Fredrick Douglass' story is eye-opening and important. I would suggest this book to anyone over 12, because of some of the content/imagery.

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abcDena
Sep 24, 2018

I don't know what three stars even means, or why I assigned this great book such a piddly rating...but it's star-less. Unstarrable. I read this 20 years ago and still think about it often. Some of the images Douglass paints are still burned into my mind's eye, especially the one of a pen fitting into the cracks in his soles.

robhoma Mar 31, 2014

When studying slavery in American History, students are often exposed to the arguments of Abolitionists and the defense of the peculiar institution by Southerners. The narrative by Frederick Douglass gives a voice to the slaves. The book is 124 pages long and very quick to read. You can also download this book from the internet, for free, at Project Gutenberg. The difference is that this version has a ten-page introduction by Peter Gomes.

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