Publication Date: 1845
Page Count: 100
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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is a piece of writing that I hoped, and expected, to read while getting my degree in English. Unfortunately, my American Lit. part one professor preferred the awful works of white men to any quality works by women or African Americans, so I took it upon myself to read this piece, as it is a staple of American literature.
Douglass was born a slave and remained a slave for the early part of his adulthood. He moved from master-to-master until he escaped to freedom. What makes Douglass' story unique from other slave narratives is that Douglass was taught to read and write by an early master's wife. From there he secretly continued learning to read and write by any possible means and wrote Narrative unaided and published it in 1845. Douglass went on to be a very important figure in the Abolitionist movement and spoke against racism publicly for the rest of his life.
I really enjoyed this short narrative. Douglass is endlessly smart and compassionate and communicates his experiences to the reader in a matter-of-fact manner that make his narrative impossible to deny or ignore. This is not an easy read, but it would be a disservice to history and the experiences of many if it was. It's not overly graphic, Douglass does not rely on shock-value or emotionally preach to his reader, he just relays his experiences and that is enough. I found Douglass' thoughts on religion and religion's role in slavery quite interesting, and I really enjoyed his writing voice. Douglass is a person I would love to learn more about as a human and in regards to his role in anti-slavery activism.
I highly recommend checking this one out if you are interested in American history, slavery, or African American activists. I'll leave you with some of Douglass' wise words, "I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and incur my own abhorrence."