This morning, I opened a book I’ve had on my Kindle for a while, Twelve Years a Slave, a memoir by Solomon Northrup an African American freeman, who was tricked into slavery for twelve years. As books go, this was a quick read for me as I am used to much more complex and nuanced history. However, a memoir is a memoir…one person’s accounting of his or her experiences over some finite period of time.
As I have not seen the movie, I have no idea if it follows he book’s story line, but think the book would make excellent reading for high school and above kids. Some have worried about the violence in the book, however, given the level of violence in modern culture, this book is tame.
I found nothing in the book I had not already discovered reading US history of this period. The book caused a great deal of outrage at the time Northrup wrote it, and for good reasons.
Several things struck me:
1/ Mr. Northrup was better read than many people are today. He writes in the beautiful nineteenth century style reminiscent of Jane Austen, the Brontes or Gorge Elliot (Mary Ann Evans). Although he is not descriptive of interior psychology as Austen, his characterizations (appearances) of individuals is excellent down to the shades of skin and eye color. Moreover, he is very cognizant of his milieu and describes in great detail, food, clothing, flora and fauna as he is sent from Washington DC to Virginia and south to Louisiana and Texas.
2/ Mr Northrup appears to have survived his ordeal without undue anger towards Whites or fellow Blacks as a group. He thinks the peculiar institution of slavery is abominable, but has kind words for each person who helped him along the way. He also overcomes attacks by fellow slaves and even reports the whereabouts of some fugitive slaves (who attacked him) at one point.
3/ He is not a racist. He has great regard for his country and takes the words of Jefferson, whom he quotes, quite seriously … “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights” …
4/ He is learned and quotes Wordsworth and other poets in his memoir. For example, speaking of a child who grows up to become a bully, he says, “the child is father of the man.”
Although I am not partial to memoirs, I was very impressed by the book.
I probably won’t see the film, however.
On a lighter note, this morning, I had the second in a series of three shots of Hyaluronic acid. Doctor McConnell said this drug mimics only one of the components of synovial fluid and designed to provide lubricant to the knee-joint. He also said, the third shot will be it… If I find myself in much pain a couple of months after the third shot the only recourse is knee-joint replacement surgery.
Okay, that was not very cheerful so how about this … the Robins are back and singing their hearts out. I discovered a Mockingbird on the suet feeder. And the US Park Service announced when the Cherry blossoms will bloom in April.