The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African

By Olaudah Equiano,

Book cover of The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African

Book description

The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African, first published in 1789, is the autobiography of Olaudah Equiano. The narrative is argued to be a variety of styles, such as a slavery narrative, travel narrative, and spiritual narrative. The book describes Equiano's time spent…

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Why read it?

4 authors picked The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Equiano’s autobiography fascinated me when I stumbled upon a paperback edition of it in a local bookstore nearly thirty years ago.

A bestseller during Equiano’s lifetime, his Interesting Narrative is appreciated as a work of enduring historical and literary value. The odyssey he recounts takes him from enslavement as a child in Africa to becoming a leading figure in the struggle to abolish the transatlantic slave trade.

Along the way, he serves in the British Royal Navy, gains his freedom, participates in a scientific expedition to the Arctic, has a religious conversion, observes various kinds of slavery in North and…

From Vincent's list on recover early Black Atlantic lives.

Equiano’s autobiography did as much as any writing to promote the cause of the abolition of slavery, having been a slave himself but able to make his life accessible to any reader. Empathy was crucial to abolitionism, thinking of a slave as like anyone else. His book is fascinating in itself but also a compelling example of the power of narrative to change opinions. 

From Lynn's list on why we care about human rights.

Equiano’s text is part of the plethora of autobiographical narratives written by formerly enslaved persons who worked to abolish the slave trade in the 18th and 19th centuries. In this text is all the classic themes and conventions of the genre – the quest for freedom, trauma, dislocation, etc. – but Equinao text distinguishes itself as one of the few slave narratives that provide a detailed portrayal of an enslaved person’s formative years in Africa (in this case, Igboland, modern-day Nigeria), before enslavement in the New World. The unique aspect of the text allows meditations on identity, family, and childhood…

In 1789, a free Black man living in London published a two-volume autobiography recounting his childhood in West Africa, kidnapping and sale to slave traders, forced migration to the Americas, and bondage under a variety of different British masters, and experiences after he purchased his freedom. The author, Olaudah Equiano, also known during his lifetime as Gustavus Vassa, presented eye-witness evidence that helped Britons to comprehend the brutality and cruelty of the transatlantic slave trade and the impact of Britain’s Atlantic slave system on African people.

After the publication of his Interesting Narrative, Equiano traveled throughout Britain lecturing on the…

From Brooke's list on Britain and Atlantic slavery.

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