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In 1845, runaway slave Frederick Douglass became, almost overnight, the most celebrated African American author in history with the publication of his Narrative. In stark, powerful prose, he conveyed his observations of owners and overseers, the demoralizing effects of slavery on both slave and slaveholder, and his own triumph over oppression. In the latter part of the century, Douglass became a public figure of enormous stature: an orator, a newspaper publisher, and a statesman. But he is perhaps best remembered as America's first major African American writer, a man whose work still makes a powerful impact on both our minds and hearts.
For a new perspective on Douglass' narrative, Henry Louis Gates, Jr.'s, introduction examines its literary and social importance, and considers the issues Douglass raised as the foundation for today's field of African American studies. Gates's illuminating insights, and an extensive bibliography, make this edition essential reading for scholars, historians, and students of African American literature.