Friday, October 28, 2011

Incidents In The Life Of A Slave Girl Written By Herself By Harriet Ann Jacobs

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Written by Herself

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Written by Herself
By Harriet Ann Jacobs

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Average customer review:
(68 customer reviews)

Product Description

This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery.

Product Details
  • Published on: 2004-02-01
  • Released on: 2004-02-01
  • Format: Kindle eBook
  • Number of items: 1
Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

113 of 115 people found the following review helpful.
5Rare first hand account of a slave girl
By Michael A Neulander
Harriet Jacobs book Life of a Slave Girl is a unique piece of slave literature directly from the pen of an articulate slave. One gets a sense of the poignant way she can retell the story of her enslavement from a passage she writes in the preface of her book.

". . . I do earnestly desire to arouse the women of the North to a
realizing sense of the condition of two millions of women at the South,
still in bondage, suffering what I suffered, and most of them far worse.
I want to add my testimony to that of abler pens to convince the people
of the Free States what Slavery really is. Only by experience can any
one realize how deep, and dark, and foul is that pit of abominations."

Her story raises emotions of sentiment for a mother struggling to hold her family together, and it shines a light on the cruelties of slavery. The political sentiment at the time among the elites in the northern states was increasingly becoming antislavery. The political aspect of Jacob's writing is not that of the highly stylized writings of famous abolitionists or of eminent blacks such as Frederick Douglass using reason and religion to condemn slavery. Jacob's writing is visceral and down to earth. Her powerful argument against slavery pulls at the heartstrings of any sympathetic decent human being. In essence, Jacob's story is one that resonates with people of all socio-economic backgrounds. It is no mystery why the hearts and minds of people are stirred to action after one reads Jacob's disturbing accounts of sexual depravity, mental anguish, and the destruction of the family unit, that she endured as a slave. Her first person narrative account is what makes her book such a strong force of political sentiment in the genre of slave narrative. Since there were so few slave narratives in circulation at the time, it was easy for Jacob's book to engender such strong political sentimentality.

Jacob's ability to arouse aesthetic sentimentality in her audience was a bit tricky, because of the sexual decisions she had to make in her life. Deciding to have an elicit sexual relationship with an unmarried white neighbor to escape the depraved advances of her owner could be construed as Jacob's being more interested in autonomy and less interested in chastity. Jacob has made it clear to her audience that it was her station in life that caused her to make what her white readers would consider an unconventional choice. Jacob's plight as a slave caused her to choose freedom over trying to protect her chastity more strenuously. Since slavery took away almost all of her freedom and individuality, she was willing to trade her chastity for the freedom of choice. Jacob's virginity was one of the few things she possessed that she was able to withhold from her owner. After going into detail for why she made her choice she still felt it was necessary to apologize to her "Victoria" audience for her decision. This act on her part was truly one of the few choices she had the ability to make while in slavery's bondage. Thus, once Jacob's white audience understood the dreadfully marginal position she occupied in society, most of them would feel compassion for her. This would make her audience more inclined to accept the choice she felt was necessary to make for her own well-being. Jacob's decision over who she would give her sexual being to, was he only way of holding onto some semblance of individuality.

This was required reading for a graduate course in the Humanities. Recommended reading for anyone interested in history, psychology, philosophy, and literature.

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful.
5Excellent Read
By Goddess Orchid
I wish everyone could read this book. Jacobs writes a story about herself as a Black American slave. Her tale brings the light the terror of people who can take power and abuse, as well, as the compassion of a people who take care of each other. In her writings she not only explains her experiences but also weaves her true tale of other experiences of slavery. She explains the differences between a black male slave and a black female slave experience. Both horrid but very different with the same outcome trauma. Anyone interested in understanding slavery should take the time to read her story. Her story is avaliable for free or a few dollars- and believe me it will be worth your time in doing so.

Before I stop writing, her writing is very visual and very well-written. She even explains how she learned to write so well.

Read it!

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful.
5A must-read slave narrative
By Amanda L. Dellario
I was delighted to find this title here. I first read it as an undergrad and then later as a graduate student interested in slave narratives. Jacobs gives a highly sensitive insight into the inner psyche of the female slave. This work is not only of great importance as a member of the "slave narrative" genre, but also of women's literature in general. It is wonderful to hear the highly femanized yet powerfully strong female voice of our narrator. Would be fantastic as a summer reading project for precocious teens along with Uncle Tom's cabin and Frederick Douglass. Plus, it's just a darned, good read!

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