The Autobiography of Olaudah Equiano Book Review by Nicky

The Autobiography of Olaudah Equiano
A review of the autobiography, "The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African".
# 149295 | 1,550 words | 6 sources | MLA | 2011 | US
Published on Dec 05, 2011 in Literature (American) , African-American Studies (Racism)

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The paper provides an overview of the life of Olaudah Equiano and relates that his autobiography "The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African" is credited by many historians with assisting in the eventual abolition of slavery. The paper discusses how researchers have indicated certain reservations about the authenticity of aspects of the autobiography, but the narrative is generally accepted to be authentic. The paper concludes that this work is both a personal expression of one individual's life experience as well as a political act that helped to bring slavery to a close.

The Life and Writings of Olaudah Equiano
The Question of Authenticity

From the Paper:

"According to the autobiography, in the summer of 1754, Equiano was sold to Michael Pascal an officer in the Royal Navy. This is a fact that has been independently verified by researchers, which suggests the veracity of the account of his life. (Olaudah Equiano: A Critical Biography). He was given the name Gustavus Vassa, which an ironic reference to a Swedish nobleman who led his people to independence. (Olaudah Equiano: A Critical Biography) It should also be noted that the naming of Equiano was typical of the process of slavery where the individual was intentionally deprived of all sense of individual identity. Despite this, Equiano went on to become a successful and independent individual in his own right.
"As a slave to a naval officer, Equiano had some excellent opportunities to develop himself. In the first instance he broadened his horizons through travel and visited England. From there he was also able to visit the rest of Europe. With the help of his owner he also learnt to read and write at a school in London. (Olaudah Equiano: A Critical Biography) This was to prove invaluable to his later advancement and development.
"In the 1750s The Seven Years War was being fought between Britain and France. Equiano was involved in the war in both Canada and the Mediterranean. (Olaudah Equiano: A Critical Biography) After this period he was again sold as a slave to a Quaker by the name of Robert King. As he was by now relatively well educated, he was considered to be too valuable to work as a normal slave in the plantations and he was trained as a gauger, a person who calculates weights and measures."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Boarding a Slave-Ship. July 4, 2009. <>
  • Olaudah Equiano (c.1745 - 1797). July 4, 2009.<>
  • Olaudah Equiano: A Critical Biography. July 4, 2009.
  • Olaudah Equiano: abolitionist and writer. July 4, 2009.
  • olaudah equiano: the life of gustavus vassa. July 4, 2009.

Cite this Book Review:

APA Format

The Autobiography of Olaudah Equiano (2011, December 05) Retrieved June 20, 2021, from

MLA Format

"The Autobiography of Olaudah Equiano" 05 December 2011. Web. 20 June. 2021. <>