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The Classic Slave Narratives: The Life Olaudah Equiano The hist Mary Prince Narrative Life Frederick Dougalas

4.25  ·  Rating Details ·  2,160 Ratings  ·  78 Reviews
These autobiographical narratives are the first texts in which black slaves began to proclaim themselves as human beings. The literature forms an intriguing personal tapestry, encompassing varied stories but inevitably depicting the horrors of human bondadge.
Paperback, 518 pages
Published September 1987 by Signet (first published 1987)
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Dee's Reading Zone
This was one of the plaintive books that got me into reading slave narratives.
Jan 29, 2011 Ricky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Life of Olaudah Equiano (finished January 2011)

This story at first was indeed a challenge for me. The language and words the author uses made me re-read pages a few times to understand what he was talking about. Of all the stories in this novel, this one was the most difficult as well as long. Equiano detailed his entire life as a slave to when he was free. He witnessed first hand the harshness and cruelty humans can inflict on one another. This was truly a coming of age story.

Incidents in t
David Withun
Nov 28, 2015 David Withun rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Don't be thrown off by the title. What is contained in this book is not merely four "slave narratives," a phrase that implies the contents would only be of interest to those who want to learn more about African American history or literature. On the contrary, what is herein contained are four of the best pieces of literature in the English language that I have ever had the great privilege of reading. Each of them is an exhibition of excellent writing, skillful storytelling, and the resiliency of ...more
Jan 24, 2011 Sabrina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was one of my all time favorites that I've read this junior year. I loved each slave narrative because they each brought their own perspective and it was interesting for me to try and imagine myself in a time where I am made inferior to all other races. These memoirs really emphasized how hard African-Americans have struggled to reach Where we are today. It was also interesting to Heard the life of a slave from both genders so that we were able to compare and contrasts their struggles ...more
Elizabeth Reuter
May 23, 2013 Elizabeth Reuter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading something like The Classic Slave Narratives, first person narratives about lifetimes of racially motivated torture and abuse, is painful. I had to read slowly, usually only a few pages each day. This allowed me to digest what I’d read, to really feel each section, rather than growing numb; it also kept me from getting too depressed to read any further.

I’m glad I did. Classic Slave Narratives is painful, but in a very compelling way. Told in the first person, these four autobiographies ga
 Chrystal-Clear (aka trouble4u)
I had to read this for my university English class and at first was not sure if I would enjoy this type of book. I'm not to keen on reading history type books like this but it did not dissappoint me at all. In fact, if just made me want to read more.

For my class I had to read the last story,The life as a slave girl told by Linda Brent, and I could really feel for Linda and the things that she went through.She starts off by having a generous master that taught her to read and write which is seldo
Yan Kadouri
Dec 09, 2010 Yan Kadouri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Classic Slave Narratives by Henry Louis Gates Jr. is such a great book because it give's the readers an inside look into the meaning of slavery through the slaves point of view also we explore the conflict that most slaves faced being taken away from their homes and being separated from their loved ones.Also Henry Louis Gates does a good in actually providing history of were slavery came from but how it effected each author he also uses various literary devices to show the true emotions of t ...more
Michael Ortega
Jul 12, 2016 Michael Ortega rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This text is an immersion not only into an account of slavery for a little over a century, but also into the birth of a new genre of writing. There are four narratives labeled "Classic" in this volume, spanning the stories of two men and two women; born in Africa, the West Indies, and the United States; and traveling the world from crossing of the Mason-Dixon Line to expeditions to the North Pole. Something the introduction, and all four authors clarify throughout, is that despite their individu ...more
Susan Fair
Oct 08, 2014 Susan Fair rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't recommend enough that everyone read slave narratives. If you're ever feeling sorry for yourself, you'll find yourself thinking of Frederick Douglass sleeping on a dirt floor with no blanket during Maryland winters, or of the runaway slave who lived in secret lying beneath her mother's floorboards so she could hear her children above her. Yeah, kind of puts things in perspective.
This important aspect of our history is most authentically conveyed by these first-person accounts - please re
Aug 01, 2011 Janice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an excellent book about slavery. Very horrible in parts because of the truth of the evilness of slavery.

No group of slaves anywhere, in any era, has left such prolific testimony to the horror of bondage as African-American slaves. Here are four of the most notable narratives: The Life of Olaudah Equiano; The History of Mary Prince; Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass; and Incidents in the Life of Slave Girl.
Ira Therebel
This book contains 4 slave narratives which are great pieces to learn about the history of that time. Reading the testimonies of the ones who were actually involved in it and were the victims of slavery gives one a great perspective and more understanding of the details. This is also a great collection because all four while they were slaves were in different situations so it gives one a wide variety and they were also written for different purposes which is reflected in the tone of the writings ...more
Dec 20, 2010 Arelis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mary Prince:
This account tells the story of a West Indian slave who endured years of cruelty and abuse at the hands of several families who successively owned her in Bermuda and the West Indies. Mary Prince traveled to London in 1828, in the service of the Woods family. There she was granted her freedom because of an English law. But England's anti-slavery ruling did not extend to Antigua, and in order to remain free, Prince had to abandon her husband who she left behind.This story is very movin
Mar 29, 2013 Brenda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For my English class, we are required to read only a few of the narratives included in this novel. So far, we've read two. The first, "The History of Mary Prince, A West Indian Slave," narrated by Mary Prince herself, was not exactly very interesting for me to read. It did, however, help the reader see the life of a West Indian Slave and put that into perspective. Through her narrative, we view the changes in her life and the constant struggle that a slave has to go through. It's constant work a ...more
Sep 30, 2011 Xing rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mary Prince
For many slaves, dead is the only way to free from the bondage and the suffering in the world. Mary was born to be a slave, she had no choice over her own life. Mary was sold from one slave owner to another. However, no matter who her master is, she was being treated badly and inhumanly. For instance, while she was slaves of Mrs. Wood and Mr. Wood, they whipped her for no reason and unwilling to let her buy freedom while they free other slaves. Besides from the suffering of endless wh
Mikhail Green
Dec 09, 2010 Mikhail Green rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Classic Slave Narratives is great book. It is one of those books that once you start reading, you cannot put down. This book describes slavery from a primary source who are former slaves of varies experiences. There is excitement on almost every page and your are less likely to be bored. This book consist of four different books or stories.

I have read the Narrative of Mary Prince. Mary Prince's story is different from the rest of teh stories because it is written the perspective of a female
Jan 17, 2011 Natalia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am currently reading The Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Linda Brent, and it is really interesting. I am surprised as to how her first mistress taught her how to read and spell when on the contrary most mistresses and masters will not supplement their slaves' education. Linda Brent obviously lived a life different most slaves by being literate and also by having both parents being mulattos, thus decreasing her negro blood. Linda Brent eloquently writes her story in such a formal way t ...more
Asha Hedrington
Dec 04, 2010 Asha Hedrington rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The History of Mary Prince...A West Indian Slave
This story by Mary Prince herself was very moving. With tremendously great imagery and details I was able to see all of the inhumane treatment that all the black people or slaves went through. In some parts of the story I almost felt like I was actually watching a slave get whipped and mistreated by their slave masters. As I read I noticed the lack of equality that was being shown. The white people thought that they were superior to the slaves and
Kristine Buckheit
"The Classic Slave Narratives" by Henry Louis Gates Jr. is not a book that would catch my eye, but it was very interesting. I am currently reading this book in English class, but one of the slave narratives that I have read was "The History of Mary Prince: A West Indian Save." This narrative was told by Mary Prince. She described the hardships about the life of a slave and gave several experiences, so the reader could picture it themselves. Slaves were treated very cruelly by their masters, as i ...more
Dec 19, 2010 Lisbeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The History of Mary Prince
This was a great narrative. Through Mary's story you almost felt like you were there like you felt her pains and sufferings. The cruelty and selfishness of being a slaveholder is portrayed within the lines of this story. It is shown how slaves would create communities within themselves to substitute their families. The themes of torture, cruelty, loneliness, suffering, knowledge, and freedom. Mary Price is taken to England where she know she is free, but yet cannot le
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Krystal Peralta
Fredrick Douglass * This part of the book tells the story of Frederick Douglass' life as a slave. The reader's will understand how Douglass fought through to become the successful. Douglass uses this imagery to make his points clear to the readers. One example of imagery is when Douglass loses an ox, by mistake and he is violently whipped for it. The story of Douglass gets more interesting as one keeps reading it. Mary Prince* My favorite quote from this section of the book was "To strip me nake ...more
Jul 10, 2008 Leah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just finished the first of these narratives, on the life of Gustavas Vassa. Once I got used to the 18th-century English, holy cow! It was genuinely gripping reading. At age 11, the author was kidnapped from what is now Nigeria and sold into slavery. He eventually bought his own freedom and became a sailor and adventurer, and died one of the best-traveled men in the world. Among the many fascinating (yet educational) aspects of this tale is the author's reactions to and experimentation with the ...more
Nov 11, 2010 Lanier rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mary Prince's trials and tribulations were something I'd only briefly read not too many years ago. However, as the first African American female to have HERSTORY recorded it is almost as monumental as Phillis Wheatley's books pf poetry surviving the flames of dissent and disloyalties. Still, the last five pages of similar accounts of Asa-Asa and another were extremely chilling in depicting how slavery truly warped those who perpetrated these acts of bestiality through daily cruelities which defy ...more
Kevin Hsuan
Jul 17, 2015 Kevin Hsuan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had to read two books for my summer reading assignment and unfortunately The Classic Slave Narratives were my top two choices. I believed that this book wont disappoint me and I was right. In fact, The Classic Slave Narratives edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr attracted me with all my focused and allows me to think in a different points of view.

I suspect this is one of best slavey story among the majority of books. Truths has been spoken about the evilness of slavery happened back in the past.

Nov 19, 2008 Isa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I learned more of how much resistance humanity is capable of in times of hopelessness; how much wealth was generated for those whose owned labor by those they owned (put simply, a whole lot)... how of course, had people who worked hardest been fairly compensated at the time, what a different looking class society America would be now. I learned that the experience of the Negro Slave was as varied and diverse as it as for whites; that in some circumstances a slave might use the fear of public ama ...more
Mary Prince:
This story is about a slave named Mary Prince who goes through a lot of experience as a slave. She started of with a happy life but as she grew older things changed. The new master that owned her happened to be a cruel one so did the next master after that. But eventually she is able to find her freedom.

Fredrick Douglas:
This story is about a slave who educates himself and eventually buys his own freedom.But he ends up getting caught again. Douglas Goes through a lot in his life but
Franklyn C
Dec 09, 2010 Franklyn C rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What i learned in this novel was about the life of Frederick DOuglass, how he was a runaway slave and became a successful writer. I realized how Douglass was very influential for slavery because he was a very intelligent man who wanted freedom. He was a very influential individual who inspired many people since his writings meant alot for the African Americans that were slaves.Themes in the book are hope and hatred, since many believed blacks did not deserve to be free and have rights. I would r ...more
Jan 23, 2011 Ernesto rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book contains several critical stories from the point-of-views of well-known slaves, such as Mary Prince and Frederick Douglass. The narratives are extremely detailed, as it describes the pain and unfairness that each narrator experiences. Themes of fear, dehumanization, and bondage are expressed throughout the book. I, myself, was disheartened by the atrocities that slaves endured. Overall, the book has been very revealing to the darkness of slavery and I recommend it to those that enjoy t ...more
Paola Garcia
Dec 30, 2010 Paola Garcia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. It fulled with amazing stories of slaves. This is one of the rare books that are left with stories of real slaves and their struggle to have freedom. This book really opened my eyes and let me know more about slaves, the things that textbooks and other books don't want to let people know about. It includes many historical context, it helps to understand what really going on through that time. The stories were very powerful and emotonal, indicating all the cruelties th ...more
this book in a book that shows the different views of 4 of the most known and important figures today in the united states and to those who have been slaves. this book is all about 4 different perspectives that write about their lives in slavery and effects in their lives since they were slaves. Classic slave narratives has been viewed as one of the top books that explores the lives of 4 different slaves and how they changed. throught the readings, mary prince and frederick douglass have been in ...more
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Henry Louis Gates Jr. is a Professor of African and African-American Studies at Harvard University and Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. He is well-known as a literary critic, an editor of literature, and a proponent of black literature and black cultural studies.
More about Henry Louis Gates Jr....

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