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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (Dover…
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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (Dover Thrift Editions) (original 1861; edition 2001)

by Harriet Jacobs

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Title:Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (Dover Thrift Editions)
Authors:Harriet Jacobs
Info:Dover Publications (2001), Paperback, 176 pages
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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs (1861)

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Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
I've had this book for a while. I should have read it sooner! ( )
  TheresaUpshur | Jun 3, 2014 |
Being a subscriber to Brown Girl Collective, a Facebook page that regularly features inspirational Black women in history, I happened upon the life story of Harriet Jacobs, a runaway slave. Learning she had written a book (under the pseudonym Linda Brent), I knew this was a must read and promptly got it from Amazon. When the book arrived, I opened its pages tentatively, and indeed, at first, I wasn't certain I could make it all the way through. Notwithstanding the uncomfortable topic, I steeled myself, and very soon I was unable to put this little gem of a book down. As I read, I kept thinking I couldn't believe it hadn't been made into a movie, because this true story has it all: an engrossing story that keeps the reader on pins and needles; intriguing personalities, including the indomitable Harriet; and the backdrop of a society so sick and depraved in nature that it took its toll on all involved.

In all my years, I have never read a real-life slave account, and I fully expected this story to be rather dry and unappealing. Instead, I was treated to a tale that rivals any of the best novels I've ever read. Harriet tells her story with such heart, the reader can feel the pain, anger, fear, and despair she endured for years. Even fully aware of her ultimate fate before I started reading (she manages to make it North as a runaway), I still found myself worried and anxious as I read. Her journey to freedom is anything but a straight line, and the events leading to her freedom are fraught with tension and suspense. Fiction could not be any better.

Then, there are the personalities that populate the story. There's Harriet herself, a proudly stubborn girl who refuses to give into her master and is determined to secure both her and her children's freedom at almost unbelievable cost to herself. Her master Dr. Flint is almost inhuman....nothing less than sick, jealous, and vindictive, determined that if he cannot have her himself, no one else ever will and she will never go free. Mrs. Flint is equally unhinged, hating Harriet because of her husband's obsession. And then, there are the good souls: Harriet's beloved grandmother who would do anything for her; her uncles and brothers who try to protect her; and the host of friends, both Black and white, who try to help Harriet. As she writes, Ms. Jacobs gives her laser-beam perceptions on people, acknowledging the good and the bad in people whether no matter their color.

And this brings us to the setting of the antebellum South, a sick, depraved society that infected everyone in its grip. Indeed, one can say that everyone was a victim in this society. To be clear, I am certainly not saying that Whites suffered anywhere near what African slaves did under the system. There is simply no comparison when one reads of slashing tendons in the ankles to prevent runaways, whippings, selling off family members, denying food to slaves too old to work..the list goes on. Nevertheless, in Dr. Flint and his wife, one can see how divorced from humanity this system caused many southern Whites to become. When one is born and suckled in such depravity, what chance do most have to rise above it and be something other than inhuman? Surely, some did, as we see in Harriet's story, but for the most part, we are a product of our environment. This book opened my eyes even further to this fact, and helps further understanding of why our country is as it is even 150 years after slavery.

In the end, I urge everyone to read this book. It is enlightening, and also, just plain good reading. ( )
  LitLoversLane | Feb 28, 2014 |
Powerful autobiography of Harriet Jacobs; this story of her life growing up as a slave and her eventual escape into the North is enhanced by the matter-of-fact manner which she uses to describe some terrible conditions. By matter-of-fact, I don't mean that she is accepting of these conditions - she speaks passionately about the injustices, cruelty, and hypocrisy she sees both in the south and the north - but she doesn't dramatize when she is describing them. I found this factual tone to make the story more compelling, so much so that I couldn't stop once I started.

To have written and published this in 1861 shows what tremendous strength of character Harriet Jacobs had, especially as she includes some fairly scathing commentary on the racism she and her children faced in the "free states" of New York and Massachusetts. I can see how incendiary this book must have been when it came out! Even as an emancipated woman living in a free state, it must have been dangerous for her (even using a pseudonym). ( )
  leslie.98 | Feb 24, 2014 |
Elizabeth Klett is absolutely wonderful narrating this autobiography. I couldn't stop listening once I had started!

Harriet Jacobs tells her story in such a straightforward manner as to compell belief, and while the abuses she describes are now well-known, it must have taken a tremendous amount of strength of mind to write and publish this in 1861. She not only documents the terrible degradations of slavery, but also the racism she and her children are forced to undergo in the "free states" of New York and Massachusetts. ( )
  leslie.98 | Feb 24, 2014 |
One of first female slave narratives and the best. From NC to north and reunion with her children. Documents female sexual exploitation. ( )
  clifforddham | Feb 3, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Harriet Jacobsprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Child, Harriet Annsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Child, Lydia MariaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jacobs, John S.Contributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Yellin, Jean FaganEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Northerners know nothing at all about Slavery. They think it is perpetual bondage only. They have no conception of the depth of degradation involved in that word, Slavery; if they had, they would never cease their efforts until so horrible a system was overthrown. -A Woman of North Carolina

Rise up, ye women that are at ease! Hear my voice, ye careless daughters! Give ear unto my speech. -Isaiah xxxii.9
Dedication
First words
I was born a slave; but I never knew it till six years of happy childhood had passed away.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Originally published under the pseudonym Linda Brent.
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Book description
One of the first personal narratives written by an ex-slave, this is also one of the few written by a woman. Harriet Jacobs (1813-97) was enslaved, along with her family, in North Carolina under a ruthless master who sexually harassed her. After several failed escape attempts, and several years of hiding, she finally made her way North to freedom, where she was eventually reunited with her children. The book was published in 1861.
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This autobiographical account by a former slave is one of the few extant narratives written by a woman. Written and published in 1861, it delivers an unflinching portrayal of the brutality of slave life. Jacobs speaks frankly of her master's abuse and her eventual escape, in an inspirational account of one woman's dauntless spirit and faith.--From publisher description.… (more)

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