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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (Barnes & Noble Classics)

(Book #1 in the The Autobiographies Series)

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good

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This description may be from another edition of this product. 76 pages.

Customer Reviews

8 ratings

It is marked all over

I can not read the book theres writing all over it, I will have to order another one

powerful book

I just got back into reading and this book was a good transition as it wasn't too long while still captivating my mind with Frederick's experiences.

disappointed at the quality of the book

I bought this book under the assumption that it was in very good condition. that is not so. the outside has like 5 stickers, barcodes, etc. the inside has a whole bunch of writings and highlighted areas. very disappointed.

The Reality of a Slave's Existence

One would expect the autobiography of any individual to be bursting with emotion, heartfelt feelings coursing through the sentences, each word blaring the author's perspective on any institution baring his/her interest. Yet, the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass adheres not to the common stereotype of such work, relying heavily on statements of fact and observation, rather than personal standpoint and beliefs, to illuminate the cruelty and inhumanity which slavery imparts upon its host. The absence of these common aspects does not detract from the profound nature of his work, as the objectivity lends more credence to his argument in that it is not tainted by prejudice, hate, or anger. He simply describes the world as it was, not as he perceived it to be, recounting his journey from slave to freeman in a manner almost entirely numb, surprisingly detached. The strategic style employed in the narrative grants Douglass the ability to argue, in a sense, without arguing. By merely stating fact, through details both vivid and overwhelming, the Narrative of Frederick Douglass has become a powerful testament to the devastating brutality of slavery, displaying with an unconquerable clarity the evils prevalent in both the abhorrent institution and the society which promotes it, thereby educating a people bent on callousness and inspiring the suffering minority towards hope. The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass was fairly simple to read and thoroughly moving, as with each page my eyes grew wider and wider at the atrocities committed in the name of slavery. I am sure he must have acquired a modicum of animosity towards the slave owners, but is not present in the work and thus allows each word to ring true. In this, he is very similar to Virginia Woolf in her feminist essay, "A Room of One's Own." She felt that when one is devoid of any prejudices or anger in their work, it calls for a greater, more powerful argument. Woolf strived to write her essay in the objective style employed by Douglass in his narrative. She wrote, "The woman who wrote those pages [of Jane Eyre] had more genius in her than Jane Austen; but if one reads them over and marks that jerk in them, that indignation, one sees that she will never get her genius expressed whole and entire . . . She will write in a rage where she should write calmly. She will write foolishly where she should write wisely. She will write of herself where she should write of her characters (ix)." The greatness of this work lies in the author's technique, his objective, thoughtful style, which remains honest and true when so much in the society he dwelled sprouted from lies.

Question the Abolitionist; Listen to the Slave

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass gives a vivid first-hand account of what nineteenth century slave life was like for one man. Unfortunately, abolitionist ideas and money steered that one man in the writing of his stories. Douglass, a slave born in Maryland in 1818, wrote the novel with publishing and publicizing support by white abolitionists in the years following his escape to freedom. First published in 1845, the novel was clearly produced with the hopes of gaining abolitionist support in a nation being torn apart by the issue of slavery. Knowing that these motives were behind Douglass' book, I'm led to mistrust the severity of some of Douglass' stories. Douglass tells many heart-wrenching tales about his days in slavery. His motherless childhood starts the narrative and is followed by numerous beatings and very long days of hard field work. He does counter these stories though, with stories highlighting a good side of slavery that abolitionists would not have wanted people in 1845 picturing. This allows Douglass' to regain some of his creditability. Douglass' motives for telling his story are obviously questionable, making his content questionable, yet his narrative stands with few others as a personally written account from a slave. Douglass shines light on many aspects of slavery that blacks hid from whites and the feelings that slaves felt it necessary to keep to themselves. This inside view makes Douglass' narrative even more valuable as a historical tool. The book is easy to read and understand, as well as being an interesting account. Taking into consideration Douglass' Abolitionist aims, his narrative still surfaces as a very valuable piece of history.

Absolutely required reading.

Anyone who wishes to be considered at all educated in the history of the United States MUST read this book. The period of this history is absolutely critical to an understanding of the country both before and after that time, as well, obviously, as during that time. And without reading the account of this great American of his experiences, one can not, truly, understand that time period.Granted, there will be those who will argue, "But why should we need to read an anti-slavery tract; there's no one alive now who would argue in favor of slavery, or deny that it was a great evil. To read a book whose primary purpose was to convince people of what is now considered obvious is pointless." But the same argument could be used to apply to reading a biography of George Washington, or Thomas Jefferson. Most of the issues that were important to them are currently decided, and decided in their favor. Yet it is still considered neccessary for an educated American to have at least a passing idea of the history of their lives.The same is true of Frederick Douglass. The man risked his life for freedom, just as surely as did Patrick Henry, or any of the founding fathers, and his history is just as much a part of this country as theirs is; further, it is worth seeing just how literate a man born in slavery, not only self-taught, but self-taught on the sly, against every effort of his oppressors to stifle his education, can be. His facility for language is frankly better than 90% of modern Americans of any color, in spite of virtually universal education. He was a great man, and deserves to be recognized as such.

Every American must read this book

A brief and thrilling account of the actual life of an American slave in Maryland in the 1830's and 1840's. The scintillating and exquisitely precise prose is all the more amazing when you consider that Douglass had no formal education, and virtually taught himself to read and write. He pulls no punches, and anyone who ever thought even fleetingly that slavery was "not so bad" should read this page-turning powerhouse. Not to be missed on any account.

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Published by Eva • September 14, 2015

Five words you never want to hear in a comparative lit class?

"Yeah, going off of that..."

Which, when translated to normal human speak, actually means "This in no way relates to the point you just made, but I really love to hear myself talk." Every English major knows the scenario: The class circles up after reading (or not reading) a beautifully crafted piece of literature, and an intellectually-indulged twenty-something decides to hijack the discussion with the deluded idea that they have the book completely figured out. But the thing about great literature is that no one has managed to totally figure it out – that's why it stands apart as a selection of work that we all keep coming back to. Plus nothing kills an engaging class discussion quite like an unchecked know-it-all. Whether you're the type of student who's read the book before it was assigned, or who only highlights quotes they find on sparknotes, these ten works of literature are worth a second (or third) read. And here's a plus; two of them are comic books.

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