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The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano by Olaudah Equiano Review

Title: The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano

Author: Olaudah Equiano

First published January 1, 1789

256 pages, Paperback

ISBN: 9780312442033 (ISBN10: 0312442033)

Rating: 3.74


The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano by Olaudah Equiano is a captivating and revealing autobiography that provides a unique glimpse into the Western world of the eighteenth century through the eyes of a former slave. Equiano’s story, the first slave narrative to gain widespread readership, offers vivid accounts of the slave trade and its impact on both individuals and society.

This second edition, supervised by Equiano himself in 1789, includes contemporary illustrations with expanded captions and a detailed map of Equiano’s travels. The introduction, written by Robert J.

Allison, has been updated to reflect the latest scholarship on Atlantic history and the history of slavery, as well as the ongoing controversy surrounding Equiano’s birthplace. With helpful footnotes and a comprehensive bibliography, this thought-provoking narrative is an essential read for those seeking to understand the complexities of the slave trade and its lasting impact.

About the Author

Meet Olaudah Equiano, or as he was also known, Gustavus Vassa. He was a remarkable African figure who played a significant role in the British abolition movement against slave trade.

While he was once enslaved in his youth, he managed to buy his freedom and went on to become an author, merchant, and explorer. His travels took him to various corners of the world, from South America to the Caribbean, the Arctic, the American colonies, and even the United Kingdom.

Editoral Review

“The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano” by Olaudah Equiano is a landmark work in African literature. Published in 1789, this book is a captivating autobiography that tells the story of Equiano, a former slave who traveled across the Atlantic and eventually gained his freedom.

The book is written in a straightforward and engaging style that offers a clear and intimate portrait of Equiano’s life. Through his adventures, the reader learns about the horrors of the slave trade, the struggles of enslaved people, and the resilience of the human spirit.

Equiano’s ability to overcome adversity and advocate for his own freedom is remarkable and inspiring. The book also offers valuable insights into the historical and cultural contexts of the time.

It sheds light on the African experience of slavery and colonialism, and the way European powers exerted their influence over African nations. It also bears witness to the end of the 18th century, a time of great social and political upheaval that saw the birth of the modern world.

In terms of critical analysis, “The Interesting Narrative” is a well-crafted work that showcases Equiano’s talents as a writer and storyteller. The book is both informative and emotive, striking a perfect balance between historical documentation and personal testimony.

Equiano’s character development is deftly handled, with his growth and transformation being gradual and authentic. The pacing is excellent, as the book moves smoothly from one chapter to another, building momentum towards its climax.

One of the book’s most significant strengths is the way it tackles themes of identity, freedom, and justice. Equiano is a fantastic example of someone who fought for his rights and reclaimed his humanity despite being subjected to the most appalling dehumanization.

The book is, therefore, an excellent exemplar of a struggle against the oppression, and in that sense, it is a call to action for modern readers. On the flip side, some of the weaknesses of the book are related to its age.

As an 18th-century text, “The Interesting Narrative” can be challenging to understand or relatable to modern readers who are not familiar with the customs and traditions of the era. Additionally, some of the language and expressions used might sound archaic, making it challenging to read without constant cross-reference to a dictionary.

But overall, “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano” is a fantastic book that offers an engaging, informative, and inspiring reading experience. It is recommended for anyone interested in African history, British history, the slave trade, and personal narratives of courage and perseverance.

It is a reminder of the power of hope, and the critical role that individual agency and resistance play in shaping our lives. The book deserves a score of 4 out of 5, based on its literary merit, historical value, and contemporary relevance.