And he himself were treated Yet this just wasn t the read for me Olaudah Euiano wrote his memoir in 1789 as a two volume work Following the publication of his book he traveled throughout Great Britain as an abolitionist and author He married Susanna Collen in 1792 and had two daughters Euiano died in London in 1797The first part of the book describes Euiano s native African culture and countryside He was born in Eboe in what is now Nigeria He tells of his capture as a child along with his sister and being sold into slavery He was sent to the West Indies He was sold again and spent some time in Virginia working on a plantation He was sold again this time to the ownercaptain of a merchant ship and was taken to England While the Captain was ashore Euiano was sent to school and earned to read and write English He also História do Rei Transparente learned about Christianity He would then go to sea with the Captain He was sold several times and ended up sold to a uaker merchant who employed him in a variety of positions He saved money and purchased his freedomThe book is well written but in the style of the 1780s His descriptions of extreme hardship and desperate conditions are interspersed with his astonishment at new sights and experiences He also tells of his culture shock at his introduction to European culture and their treatment of slaves This is an important book to read as it is one of the few first hand narratives of slavery in the 1700s It is also important to read as slavery is still a problem today primarily in AfricaJeff Moon does a good job narrating the book Moon is an actor singer voiceover artist and audiobook narrator My wife was so excited when she found out I was reading this because she says she now knows the worst possible answer to What are you into I m pretty into 18th century slave narratives It s a good thing I m already married she says Worst Tinder profile everAnyway so I m pretty into 18th century slave narratives specifically this one book the first major slave narrative which was a ginormous success when it was published in 1789 going to eight editions and remaining continuously in print for a century and helping to bring about the end of slavery in Britain I m also into 19th century slave narrativesAnd Olaudah Euiano s story has it all Slavery Naval warfare Shipwreck Arctic exploration It s so action packed that it feels wildly improbable but Euiano was a public figure aeading abolitionist and most of his story is thoroughly documented There s some pedantic debate about whether he was born in Africa or South Carolina The book begins in Africa and follows his capture and passage to the Indies The rest of it definitely happenedThe unfortunate thing is that it s wildly boring Euiano has a fascinating story but he s a horrendous storyteller Here s a storyJust as our ship was under sail I went down under the cabin to do some business and had a Best Mechanic Ever lighted candle in my hand which in my hurry without thinking I held in a barrel of gunpowder It remained in the powder until it was near catching fire when fortunately I observed itThat s incredible right I m almost impressed at his ability to make such a great story that boring Wait til he starts talking about God it s direSo this is sort of the Castle of Otranto of slave narratives it s an inventor of the genre and responsible for codifying many of its rules but in itself it s not greatiterature As slave narratives became a popular genre in the 19th century they followed Euiano s three act blueprint The horrors of slavery are described There is a dramatic escape The author becomes a productive member of societyThe details here are uniue mostly due to Euiano s extensive naval career but the basic arc is in place More gifted writers notably Frederick Douglass Harriet Jacobs and Solomon Northup would make better Dinosaur Dinners literature with it in the coming century Olaudah Euiano s book is important but not terrifically well told I can only really recommend it if say you re already pretty into 18th century slave narratives I went through a variety of stages while reading this book First I was very interested The opening 40 pages drew me in I was taken with this small boy being ripped from everything he knew Then Gustavus Vassa s interestingife got really boring The story itself was riveting but the writing was difficult to get through It is probably typical of the time but not for my own 21st century tastes I powered through because I think that this is historically an important book to read Vassa s memoir is the only book that I know of in which an ex slave documents the middle passage As I continued to read I became intrigued by Vassa s psychology and his conversion to Christianity Chapter 10 was particularly fascinating In it Vassa spent a great deal of time writing about his spiritual struggles which was one of the most interesting dimensions of the bookFor his spiritual struggles he never seemed to uestion his own complicity in slavery As a free man he purchased slaves and worked as an overseer I don t write this as a judgment of Vassa He In His Blood lived with great integrity and when he had the means he fought strongly against slavery I find it curious that as such a thoughtful person on the matters of slavery and Christianity that he did not tackle that uestionThe best parts of the book were when Vassa shared of himself not just the facts This memoir is begging for a historical fiction transformation I wouldike to see an author keep true to the historical details of Vassa s Desert Kings (Deathlands, life but give us better writing and a multidimensional person in Vassa What aife The author apologises if the reader finds his story a bit dull and maintains that it is only because he sticks strictly to the truth with no embellishments But the truth sometimes beggars belief and it is frankly astonishing that a An Officer and a Spy life so full of wild adventure and changing fortunes can be rendered so dry and unexciting Apparently practically everything in these memoirs can be backed up and documented by other sources so the reader can only marvel and not disbelieve And I would marvel I did marvel it s just that I would have marvelled so much if the wildest events hadn t been tersely summarized in a few neutral sentences before moving on to the next adventure without so much as a change of paragraphs Euiano only playsip service to the adventure His focus is on showing that his people are well people And that slavery is both morally wrong and economically unsoundThe Narrative is as such both Interesting and not very But it is a well of information on the 18th century slave trade and the conditions trafficked Africans had to Exposed (Annika Bengtzon, live under whether enslaved or emancipated Perhaps it is a mercy that Euiano uses a brief informative style rather than a evocative account The descriptions of the slave ships and the various punishments meted out to slaves in the West Indies for the smallest infractions real or perceived are hard enough to read as it is But as Euiano was used to getting neither justice nor mercy from white people he doesn teave it at descriptions of the gross brutality and injustices encountered No he starts with the Bible and tries to establish a Ooko link between the people of Africa and theost tribe of Israel Considering how the Jews have been treated in Europe over the centuries it seems a desperate move to base a claim to justice and freedom on such a parallel He further argues that Naked lack of ability stems not fromack of intelligence due to skin colour but ack of education nutrition and opportunity I winced reading this that it should be necessary to even argue this and then I winced even when it occurred to me that some people haven t received the memo even in the 21 century Euiano also shows himself a dedicated and pious Christian than most of the white people he meets and the contemporary reader must have felt ashamed of the barbary of their countrymen It is not surprising that his account helped abolish slavery in Britain It is a pity it didn t do the same for America. Ion “He alerts us to the very concerns that trouble modern intellectuals black white and otherwise on both sides of the Atlantic”The text of this Modern Library Paperback Classic is set from the definitive ninth edition of 1794 reflecting the author’s final changes to his masterwor.
Olaudah Euiano and his interesting narrative provide an insight into a time and situation that few people survived to record or recall and those that did survive were rarely ever iterate For this reason and so many others Euiano or Gustavus Vassa as he was Claim The Crown later christened has a uniue story to tellKidnapped from his home in an Ibo village NigeriaEuiano is enslaved by people of his own race and traded between tribal groups for over nine months before he finally makes it to the coast where he is put on board a slave ship and forced to endure the horrors of what was known as the middle passage the journey at the centre of the slavery triangle from Africa to the Americas The mere fact that he survived this journey when millions of others died is a testament to his will to survive from the very beginning Following this he was passed between many masters some who Euino says used him well and others who treated him with cruelty and tyranical violence Havingearned english converted to christianity and befriended his master a ships Captain Euiano becomes a capable hand before the mast He travels on numerous barues sloops and brigs making journeys from England to Spain Portugal Turkey Jamaica Georgia Barbados and the Mosuito coast before savvy trading allows him to save enough money to purchase his deeds of manumission essentially he bought his own freedomHowever Nerds life as a free man is not simple in theate 18th century and In the Shadow of the Crown (Queens of England, life as a freed slave is even difficult Euiano spends half of his time being ripped off by treacherous white traders ships captains and merchants and than a few of the people he meets try to press gang him onto boats or sell him on as a runaway slave Depsite these set backs Euiano ever the optimist maintains an outlook which constantly sees the best in everyoneFrom the point of view of a maritime archaeologist whoives in works in Liverpool I found this book interesting for a number of reasons Euiano visit Liverpool but provides no description aside from mentioning that he sails from here to Dublin At this time Liverpool was at its peak of involvement in the slave trade and yet despite visiting Wales London and even the Midlands he never make a proper visit to the city where many of the Guineamen slave ships were berthed It might be that the reputation of sailors town on the waterfront precluded a ong stay press ganging abduction and murder were not uncommon hereEuiano provides an excellent record of the ships he sails on noting their type their names and sometimes their captains or owners It is interesting to note that near the beginning of his story most of the vessels plying their trade across the Atlantic are of 50 or 60 tons however as his narrative progresses the vessels have increased in size and now exceed 150 tons This is indicative of the wealth of the British Merchant fleets as well as advances in Maritime and ship building technology This kind of increase in size can also be seen in records such as Gomer Williams History of the Liverpool Privateers 1744 1812Euiano converts to christianity and mentally chastises himself for not iving according to all ten commandments he swear aboard ship and works on the sabbath meaning that he s only achieving a score of 810 on the commandments front yet the white so called christians the very men whose religion he has adopted were the ones who enslaved him in the first place Further he rarely uestions how any benevolent god can exist when millions of enslaved Africans are dyingEuiano as a free man actively participates in the slave trade He works on board boats which carry slaves and even goes to market on behalf of his employer to purchase slaves himself At no point in his narrative does he express remorse for his part in the trade which was responsible for his own displacement or reflect on his new role at the other end of the perspective yet he chastises himself for swearing and thus being ungodly He even mentions that when buying slaves he preferentially selects his own countrymen Later events in the narrative indicate that this was his way of ensuring that they were better treated and well fed he knows that this is one way in which he can make their On Such a Full Sea lives tolerable as it is not within his power to assure their comfort or safety in any other wayEuiano also does a fantastic job of highlighting the perils of seafaring He made dozens of voyages where some men wereucky to survive than two or three and his narrative is full of near drownings wreckings and head on collisions with other boats Collisions with other vessels are in fact surprisingly numerous which is amazing when you consider the size of the Atlantic Ocean and the Hello, Hippo! Goodbye, Bird! lack of formalised shippinganes at this timeA brilliant narrative and one that provides a first hand account of the slave trade this book became a core part of the abolitionist Cannibal literature when it was published Well deserving of a place on the 1001 booksist and uniue in many ways I will not in any way dispute the importance of Euiano and his narrative he is a brilliant example of a black Atlantic figure providing an insightful and remarkably verifiable account of the black experience amid a predominantly white society and a powerful polemic for the abolitionist causeBut my god is it a slow read Anything even vaguely autobiographical can be difficult to rate it s somebody s Mastered (The Enforcers, life after all But that does not make it impervious to criticism Euiano sanguage Man, Son of Man lacks economy and heart and for anyone poised to attack me with the specious argument that the time period sanctions such hideous writing then I recommend you read anything by Mary Wortley Montagu who published incredibly elegant and moving travel narratives about seventy years earlier The Interesting Narrative is superlative if you areooking into the concept of double consciousness as defined by W E B Du Bois Euiano exists on the boundary between African and British identities being at once both and fully neither He is deeply affected by how readily others define him as African despite his efforts to acculturate to British standards That being said I won t comment on the disputed authenticity of Euiano s African heritage documents having been unearthed as naming Virginia his place of birth Whilst this makes his account of the Middle Passage far Alter Ego less powerful it is clear that we are underestimating hisiterary merit if he did in fact invent an African identity so convincinglyImportant but agonisingly dull Now that was indeed an interesting narrative The narrative may have been written in the anguage of the times but even that had a hard time making this one boring From slavery to freedom to various sea voyages England to America to the Arctic to Africa and back again and disasters just barely escaping with his ife and freedom Definitely one we should have read in school Generally regarded as one of the best slave narratives ever written the book is Euiano describing his Uncommon Wisdom life beginning with how he was kidnapped in Africa at age 11 and sold into slavery The interesting thing about this book is that Euiano doesn t just survive the Middle Passage but actually crosses the Atlantic multiple times traveling from South America to England to the American Colonies to the Caribbean to the Middle East all while trying to win his freedom It s a passionate anti slavery message with Euiano unflinchingly recounting the horrors of the slave trade to make his readers cringe I defy you to read his account of the Middle Passage or how he mentions seeing 9 year old African girls raped by white men without wanting to throw up and making reasoned arguments against it Whether or not the account is fully non fiction and Il get to that the fact remains that this is a very affecting story So many negative reviews of this book on Goodreads I m a Unseen City little surprised actually Yes it drags on forong stretches at a time while Euiano regales us with boring naval stories and tells us everything about his spiritual conversion but what people are Edited and with Notes by Shelly EversleyIntroduction by Robert Reid Pharr In this truly astonishing eighteenth century memoir Olaudah Euiano recounts his remarkable ife story which begins when he is kidnapped in Africa as a boy and sold into slavery and culminates when he has achieved
Issing I think is that he s including these stories for a reason He was writing for a white male upper class audience in the 18th century and those readers probably wouldn t have been too interested in reading 200 pages on why slavery is wrong and they re total assholes for supporting it So Euiano throws in all the seafaring crap to keep his audience interested and also prove what a oyal British subject he is The religion aspect is the same thing no one wants to God Is in the Crowd listen to a heathen so Euiano makes it clear that he s a devout Christian and then uses scripture and Christian doctrine to support his arguments against slavery All the boring parts are in fact a calculated effort to get people to read his book andisten to what he has to say that doesn t make it much interesting to read in the 21st century of course but you can t win them allAnd now we discuss the ESCANDALO surrounding this bookOkay so in the book Euiano mentions that when he Attracting Songbirds to Your Backyard lived in the American colonies he was baptized as Gustavus Vassa There is a record of this baptism but this is what it says Gustavus Vassa a Black born in Carolina 12 years old Then one of the ships Euiano worked on has a record of a crew member named Gust Weston or Gust Feston of S CarolinaAfter scholars found this there was an immediate academic shitstorm because omg Euiano might not actually have been born in Africa at all This very flimsy in my opinion piece of evidence has been enough for some people to disregard the book entirely because if Euiano is aiar then why should we isten to anything he has to sayAt the risk of editorializing these people are idiots My class read a very good very angry article by Cathy Davidson where she rips this argument apart and basically boils it down to three main points 1 Euiano s master might have had a very good reason for saying that he was born in the colonies rather than Africa so they wrote that on the baptism record similarly it may have been easier for Euiano to say that he was born in South Carolina Thousands of immigrants have done similar things and it doesn t make them iars 2 If Euiano was born in America and never made the Middle Passage that doesn t mean his account of it isn t true because he could have heard about it from another slave 3 If Euiano was in fact born in America that doesn t diminish the importance of his narrative at all In fact it gives the book even greater significance because it means that the first American novelist was black That fact alone means that this book should not be disregarded because it might not be entirely factual whether or not Euiano was entirely truthful in his book is not the point at all Read for Colonial Imagination On a 2007 British stampThis dry but affecting autobiography is an important progenitor of what would Notes for the Everlost later become known especially in American contexts as the slave narrative Behind the uninspiring title You might as well call it Some Words on a Page my wife said Euiano sife was an extraordinary one Born somewhere among the Igbo peoples of West Africa he was kidnapped by black slavers when he was eight or nine taken to the coast and sold to a British slave ship which carried him first to Barbados and then to Virginia Bought by a British officer he served in the Royal Navy during the Seven Years War and was When I Moan (Vassi and Seri 1: Russian Stepbrother Romance) later resold to a uaker merchant from Philadelphia who put him to work on a variety of his trading vessels and plantations in the American states and the Caribbean Eventually Euiano amassed enough money to purchase his freedom He settled in London and continued to travel intermittently as a professional ship s steward ultimately becoming a prominent voice in the abolitionist movement at the end of the eighteenth century This memoir was published in 1789 a few days before Parliament began debating ending the British slave tradeThere are some acutely distressing scenes in here of the conditions of the Middle Passage and the treatment of slaves on the sugar islands but the overwhelming effect is a general one of the profound degradation ofiving always according to the arbitrary control of another man This comes across if anything even powerfully because his owners for the most part are not sadists but comparatively reasonable people who simply find it completely unremarkable to own another person Nor does this end with his manumission since in the West Indies there was No Biggy! little or noaw for a free negro meaning he had no Crush It! legal recourse when he was robbed cheated or beaten and it was not uncommon for black freemen to be simply restrained andoaded onto a boat anyway Euiano sees this happen to a free black acuaintanceBy his own admission he is no great writer and although one obviously doesn t read this for its Attracting Birds to Your Backyard literary ualities per se it is still a bit frustrating to see what should be amazing incidents or anecdotes thrown away in the midst of a paragraph In Savannah Georgia for instance he casually mentionsI used to go for the cargo up the rivers in boats and on this business I have been freuently beset by alligators which were very numerous on that coast and I have shot many of them when they have been near getting into our boats which we have with great difficulty sometimes prevented and have been very much frightened at themSome of the early passages about his childhood in Africa are clearly modelled or evenifted from contemporary travel Deep Listening literature and there has been much scholarly debate over where Euiano was actually born his greatest modern biographer Vincent Carretta concludes that he was probably born in South Carolina which is what he told ateast two clerks during his Bird-by-Bird Gardening lifetime Personally given Euiano s deep religious commitment to honesty and the fact that he doesn t strike me as a writer with much flair for making things up I find it reasonable to assume per Occam s razor that what he says here is substantially correct But what do I knowThe religious conviction was an important part of Euiano sife much of his book reads a The Works of Saint Augustine lotike a conventional spiritual autobiography with a Unbuttoning the CEO (The Suits Undone lot of anxiety over the fate of his soul and many heartfelt Biblical uotations As a modern reader and not a religious one I found these passages both tiresome and creepy To me his religious outlook just seemsike one imposition of Europeans on his inner My Teacher Is a Robot life and not even one of the easier ones to excuse given that it is mostly the cause of a great deal of torment for him as he feels sure that he will be punished everlastingly after he dies Eventually he has a born again moment of revelation which reassures him But for Euiano and presumably many of his contemporary readers his Protestant faith was one of his most essential and significant ualities and abolition was often couched in religious termsHe describes slavery with intense practical detail but also fascinatingly in abstract terms at one point calling it a war within the heart of man As a free sailor he sometimes helped buy slaves himself The publication of this book was among other things a political weapon in the abolitionist fight which by theate 1780s had most of the public on its side though not many went as far as Anna Laetitia Barbauld who stopped taking sugar in her tea Unfortunately the conservative backlash in Britain to the French Revolution took abolition off the table and it wasn t till after the French were defeated at Trafalgar that the slave trade was finally made illegal in 1807 Euiano had died ten years previously but his Supper Club legacy had helped set the framework for the whole debateRandom sidenote in the 2006 film Amazing Grace which is pretty good he is played by of all people the singer Youssou N Dour This was assigned reading for university It mostly seemedong Although there is no doubt that Olaudah Euiano had a very interesting and testing Moanas New Friend (Disney Moana) life and has achieved and experience much my personal interest wasost at some moments He travels a Professional Capital lot and this is a travel narrative but I m not into sailing much I was interested in the moments about how slaves. Enown as a British antislavery advocate The narrative “is a strikingly beautiful monument to the startling combination of skill cunning and plain gooduck that allowed him to win his freedom write his story and gain international prominence” writes Robert Reid Pharr in his Introduct.
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Also known as Gustavus Vassa Olaudah Euiano was one of the most prominent Africans involved in the British movement of the abolition for the slave trade Although enslaved as a young man he purchased his freedom and worked as an author merchant and explorer in South America the Caribbean the Arctic the American colonies and the United Kingdom