Many of the books that now fall under public domain have appeared on the myriad versions of canonical lists of what people consider to be the classic novels of the English language. Authors whose works appear on this site and often are considered part of these canons include Homer, Shakespeare, and Dickens to name just a few. However, there are many novels that tend to fall through the cracks when people, whether they are reading for scholastic purposes or for entertainment, are asked to list works that they believe to be some of the most important literary moments in the history of the English language. One such work is the autobiographical work of Frederick Douglass entitled, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.
Frederick Douglass was a slave in antebellum Maryland who eventually escaped from slavery, authored this work, and subsequently became the face of the abolitionist movement both in America and abroad. The influence of Douglass’s Narrative in undoing the evils of slavery cannot be overstated. If you wish to experience one of the most poignant and moving works produced in America’s early history, you cannot miss Douglass’s Narrative. Within the Narrative, Douglass lays bare his life as he struggles to unshackle his mind and body from the seemingly overwhelming power of slavery. With gripping accounts of daring, sickening atrocities against human beings, and personal mental struggles all set forth in Douglass’s eloquently sparse style, you will be transported to the 1840’s and experience the firsthand accounts that played a major role in persuading people around the world to put an end to the reign of slavery. At barely over 100 pages long, Douglass’s Narrative will be a quick and powerful listen/read if you are picking it up as an audiobook or ebook. Either way, it is well worth your time to witness one of the most influential literary works in American history.