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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Reading Twelve Years a Slave

Take a book written over one hundred and fifty years ago and then ad to that the fact that the man writing it lived in an age of Victorian prose heavily weighted with religiosity and that he was African American and then a slave and that he wrote his account as a first novel essentially and that the book vanished from site as did the author. One would think this book had a lot against it but then then it was brought back to life in a movie.

And I bought the  book that was brought out before the movie. A small press with a nondescript cover. I could not put it down. Reading this book gives one new perspective on our own trials and tribulations. They are nothing. Try getting whipped with a bullwhip one hundred times until your back is lacerated. Then you have to go out and pick cotton the next day until it is dark and your day is still not over. And you do this every day. And you get whipped all the time.

But the prose is what holds you. The man simply did not give up. Twelve years of slavery and then he returns to his family. And then of course he simply disappears. There is no record of Soloman Northrup after this. We only have this book. A voice calling down from the ages. Fascinating.

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The Pitcher

Books by William Hazelgrove