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The Confessions of Nat Turner

Styron, William

(Book - 1994)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Confessions of Nat Turner
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In the late summer of 1831, in a remote section of southeastern Virginia, there took place the only effective, sustained revolt in the annals of American Negro slavery... The revolt was led by a remarkable Negro preacher named Nat Turner, an educated slave who felt himself divinely ordained to annihilate all the white people in the region. The Confessions of Nat Turner is narrated by Nat himself as he lingers in jail through the cold autumnal days before his execution. The compelling story ranges over the whole of Nat's Life, reaching its inevitable and shattering climax that bloody day in August. The Confessions of Nat Turner is not only a masterpiece of storytelling; is also reveals in unforgettable human terms the agonizing essence of Negro slavery. Through the mind of a slave, Willie Styron has re-created a catastrophic event, and dramatized the intermingled miseries, frustrations--and hopes--which caused this extraordinary black man to rise up out of the early mists of our history and strike down those who held his people in bondage. From the Hardcover edition.
Publisher: New York : Modern Library, 1994
Edition: Modern Library ed
ISBN: 0679601015
Branch Call Number: FIC STYRON 1994
Characteristics: p. cm

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Nov 10, 2014
  • lukasevansherman rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

"A Negro's most cherished possession is the drab, neutral cloak of anonymity he can manage to gather around himself, allowing him to merge faceless and nameless with the common swarm. . ."
While "The Confessions of Nat Turner" won the Pulitzer Prize and received plenty of accolades, there were some who objected to its very premise: how could a privileged white author possibly capture the voice of a 19th century slave? The controversy, coming at the height of racial tensions in the late 60s, was enough to spawn a whole cottage industry of criticism, including a book of essays. While there is some legitimacy to the criticism, esp. considering the long history of white culture appropriating African-American culture, if authors only wrote about their own class/race/gender/religion/etc., literature would be the poorer for it. The book is good, if somewhat dated, and it would have benefited from being about 100 pages shorter. I recently read James McBride's novel "The Great Lord Bird," about John Brown, which is a more successful example of historical fiction. This edition contains an afterword by Styron, which explains and defends his motivations and methods. His other major novel is "Sophie's Choice."

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app16 Version gurli Last updated 2014/12/17 17:41