Never too Late to Read Classics discussion

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Archive 2018 Group Reads > 2018 June Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup

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message 1: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new)

Lesle | 6309 comments Mod
Twelve Years a Slave is an 1853 memoir and slave narrative by American Solomon Northup as told to and edited by David Wilson. Northup, a black man who was born free in New York state, details his being tricked to go to Washington, D.C., where he was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the Deep South. He was in bondage for 12 years in Louisiana before he was able to secretly get information to friends and family in New York, who in turn secured his release with the aid of the state. Northup's account provides extensive details on the slave markets in Washington, D.C. and New Orleans, and describes at length cotton and sugar cultivation and slave treatment on major plantations in Louisiana.

The work was published eight years before the Civil War by Derby & Miller of Auburn, New York, Soon after Harriet Beecher Stowe's best-selling novel about slavery, Uncle Tom's Cabin(1852), to which it lent factual support. Northup's book, dedicated to Stowe, sold 30,000 copies, making it a bestseller in its own right.


message 2: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (last edited Jun 01, 2018 04:09AM) (new)

Lesle | 6309 comments Mod
You may choose and discuss other books based on the Theme Freedom here as well. A couple of suggestions:

Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon
Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky

Any Member interested?


message 3: by Samantha, Cajun Literary Belle (new)

Samantha Matherne (cajunliterarybelle) | 2481 comments Mod
I read Twelve Years a Slave for my early USA history class my first semester in college. The story of how Northup was enslaved and finally freed is captivating (no pun intended), but the chapters that detail farming bored me, if I remember correctly. Surprisingly, his predicament was not too uncommon in antebellum times. His case is just one of the most well-known. I have not yet seen the movie adaptation, but I have heard great things about it.


message 4: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new)

Lesle | 6309 comments Mod
I did see the movie and you are correct, it is a reality check on what was the norm and the physical and emotional hardship that happened to others as well.


message 5: by Samantha, Cajun Literary Belle (new)

Samantha Matherne (cajunliterarybelle) | 2481 comments Mod
Cases like Northup’s just aren’t discussed much. Until college, I had no idea that northerners were trapped into slavery. I must’ve donated the book back to my local bookstore after the class, knowing many other students would need it, because I don’t have it anymore.


message 6: by Anne (last edited Jun 01, 2018 10:16AM) (new)

Anne Pagh | 100 comments I've seen the movie, but haven't read the book. One more addition to my TBR.


message 7: by Blueberry (new)

Blueberry (blueberry1) | 883 comments I might read Suite Française but is it a classic? It was written in the 1940's but published in 2004.


message 8: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (last edited Jun 01, 2018 10:40AM) (new)

Lesle | 6309 comments Mod
That is fine Blueberry, was published Posthumous.
We consider those classics as written prior to 50 yrs as listed under Fundamentals of NTLTRC message 10.

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


message 9: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new)

Rosemarie | 8969 comments Mod
I will be reading Twelve Years a Slave.


message 10: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (last edited Jun 19, 2018 09:32AM) (new)

Lesle | 6309 comments Mod
I finished Chapter 1.
It is a telling of the history of his life with his family and such.

Chapter 2
How the two men conned him into going with them. Other than he needed the money and they kept doing things that made him trust them, I'm not sure why. Circus men? Why would you trust them? He even wondered why no talk of Circus!


message 11: by Claire (new)

Claire  | 241 comments I read Suite Française this year and think it is a wonderful book! Going to try to find another book.


message 12: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new)


message 13: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (last edited Jun 19, 2018 12:56PM) (new)

Lesle | 6309 comments Mod
Claire, not sure what sight I was on now but they highly recommended Suite Francaise and that her original manuscript when found was in writing so tiny it fit in one pad. (Like a spiral notebook)


message 14: by Trisha (new)

Trisha | 991 comments Rosemarie wrote: "For the theme of freedom, I highly recommend Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass.
Another is [book:Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl|15..."


Thank you for the recommendation - I have just got a copy of this book.


message 15: by Samantha, Cajun Literary Belle (new)

Samantha Matherne (cajunliterarybelle) | 2481 comments Mod
I forget the title of the particular story, but within George Washington Cable’s Strange True Stories of Louisiana there is a tale about someone being unlawfully enslaved. I believe it was perhaps a German girl. That book can be downloaded in practically any format for free online.


message 16: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new)

Rosemarie | 8969 comments Mod
I just read the first two chapters, and Solomon was certainly naive, but I am sure the two were very smooth talkers-and evil. I am sure they drugged him the night before he was kidnapped.


message 17: by Larka (new)

Larka Fenrir (larkafenrir) I finished it a couple of hours ago... in these days I couldn't put it down and I'm speachless. My comment will be naive, simple and obvious, but it's absurd and impossible to picture how people could be enslaved, tortured and considered like animals, and in some passages the author explain how, in his opinion, it happened. The fact that (it's not a spoiler, but still) (view spoiler). Unfortunately, nowadays (and always) we still have to remember what people are able to do, what they're willing to do, basing their decision of the mere colour of people skin. Even though we won't (hopefully) apply the same fisical abuse and discimination, I'm so worried we're going to find new ways to oppress some ethnicities. We already have.


message 18: by Samantha, Cajun Literary Belle (new)

Samantha Matherne (cajunliterarybelle) | 2481 comments Mod
Larka, the really scary truth of slavery is that almost every civilization in history has used slaves at some point in time.


message 19: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new)

Lesle | 6309 comments Mod
Rosemarie wrote: "I just read the first two chapters, and Solomon was certainly naive, but I am sure the two were very smooth talkers-and evil. I am sure they drugged him the night before he was kidnapped."

Oh I totally agree that they drugged him!


message 20: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new)

Lesle | 6309 comments Mod
Slavery happened all over the world in one shape or another.
It is very sad that it still happens today. Women are kidnapped and sold and so are children.


message 21: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) | 729 comments Lesle wrote: "Slavery happened all over the world in one shape or another.
It is very sad that it still happens today. Women are kidnapped and sold and so are children."


Slavery comes in many forms from workers being paid a pittance to do work no one else would do because of harmful conditions, to those who are sold and change hands many times for what use their body can be put to. It is as old as the human race and I believe even more widespread than at any time in human history. We all like to buy things cheaply because money is tight for us all but the unseen cost in human misery in the production of things we buy is enormous. Also pension funds and investments could be tied into such enterprises. I suppose what I am saying is that we all could have a part in this but what is to be done about it is a difficult question and I have few answers.


message 22: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new)

Rosemarie | 8969 comments Mod
I have just finished chapter 6, where a mother is separated from her two children, and they from each other. It was brutal.


message 23: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new)

Lesle | 6309 comments Mod
The Slave Pen is a horrible place. He meets others there and they try to help him understand that he needs to not mention "Free"


message 24: by Larka (new)

Larka Fenrir (larkafenrir) I really hope I didn't say something wrong in my comment: I wasn't talking about slavery in American history only... if that was the message you got from it, I'm really sorry I didn't explain myself better. As it transpires from my writing and if you've checked my profile you'd know I'm Italian, and I can assure you we had our shameful history on the subject... we still have, in some forms. I apologize if it seemed I said otherwise.


message 25: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new)

Rosemarie | 8969 comments Mod
Larka, you didn't say anything wrong, don't worry.
Slavery is still going on today in parts of the world. Maybe people aren't bought and sold, but some work in intolerable situations, often lured to new countries and then forced to work in horrible conditions, just as Tracey said above.
Every country has had some dark times, hopefully long in the past.


message 26: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new)

Rosemarie | 8969 comments Mod
Lesle, I can't imagine how frustrated he felt not to be able to tell the truth, but he would not have survived another beating.


message 27: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new)

Lesle | 6309 comments Mod
Larka, no worries!
I did not find anything offensive.
It is true it still happens and so form and not just here is the States.


message 28: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new)

Lesle | 6309 comments Mod
Rosemarie wrote: "I have just finished chapter 6, where a mother is separated from her two children, and they from each other. It was brutal."

Is that the same Mother from the Slave Pen that he met. She was mistress and always well treated so I'm sure this was all a shock for her as well.


message 29: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new)

Rosemarie | 8969 comments Mod
His first owner is a decent man, but his second owner Tibeats is the total opposite, evil and mean.


message 30: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new)

Rosemarie | 8969 comments Mod
I am now in the section of Mr. Epps, his owner for ten difficult years. In chapter 18 we see just how awful it was to be a young attractive female slave in what happened to Patsey.


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