Unchained Voices (Paperback)
An Anthology of Black Authors in the English-Speaking World of the Eighteenth Century
In Unchained Voices, Vincent Carretta has assembled the most comprehensive anthology ever published of writings by eighteenth-century people of African descent, enabling many of these authors to be heard for the first time in two centuries.
Their writings reflect the surprisingly diverse experiences of blacks on both sides of the Atlantic-America, Britain, the West Indies, and Africa-between 1760 and 1798. Letters, poems, captivity narratives, petitions, criminal autobiographies, economic treatises, travel accounts, and antislavery arguments were produced during a time of various and changing political and religious loyalties. Although the theme of liberation from physical or spiritual captivity runs throughout the collection, freedom also clearly led to hardship and disappointment for a number of these authors.
Briton Hammon, James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, John Marrant, Ignatius Sancho, Ottobah Cugoano, and Olaudah Equiano told their stories as Afro-Britons who recognized the sovereignty of George III; Johnson Green, Belinda, Benjamin Banneker, and Venture Smith spoke and wrote as African Americans n the United States; Phillis Wheatley, initially an Afro-British poet, later chose an African American identity; Francis Williams and George Liele wrote in Jamaica; David George and Boston King, having served with the British forces in the American Revolution and later lived in Canada, composed their narratives as British subjects in the newly established settlement in Sierra Leone, Africa.
In his introduction, Carretta reconstructs the historical and cultural context of the works, emphasizing the constraints of the eighteenth-century genres under which these authors wrote. The texts and annotations are based on extensive research in both published and manuscript holdings of archives in the United States and the United Kingdom. Appropriate for undergraduates as well as for scholars, Unchained Voices gives a clear sense of the major literary and cultural issues at the heart of African literature written in English.