The Confessions of Nat Turner

The Confessions of Nat Turner

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The story that inspired the major motion picture The Birth of a Nation (2016)

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.
ISBN: 9780679736639
Branch Call Number: FICTION Styron


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Mar 23, 2018

Elegant prose, deep, many passages from the bible. I was hoping the whole way for Nat to succeed the way it should have been not the way it supposedly happened in this fictional portrayal. The end note from Styron also sheds much light on the history of the novel itself. I didn't know exactly how controversial this work was, but thought when I began that it could possibly be polarizing if taken too literally which fiction should not. Thank you.

Jun 27, 2016

Too little has been written about the Nat Turner slave rebellion. William Styron made a great start at correcting this situation, but the fact is the rebellion itself defies so many comfortable stereotypes nobody who loves to blandly assert and conjecture concerning black slaves is likely to love the work. But it's a good read and worthy of more praise than it ever had.

Nov 10, 2014

"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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