Confessions of nat turner amazon
The Confessions of Nat Turner by Nat TurnerIn 1831 Nat Turner led the largest slave uprising in American history, murdering 60 white men, women and children with a mob of slaves in Virginia. Some dude went and interviewed him in prison, and this claims to be his first-person account of his life and revolt.
The motives of the dude - a white slaveowner named Thomas Ruffin Gray - have been questioned quite a bit, as has the authenticity of the whole thing. There were a bunch of witnesses to the confession, but of course none who were sympathetic to Nat Turners mission to murder all their babies. I like this piece about the Confessions. (Like any discussion of this primary source, it gets a bit wrapped up in Styrons Pulitzer-winning 1967 The Confessions of Nat Turner.) Were unlikely to get a definitive answer about this, but the tendency has been to more or less take it at its word. It feels to me like Gray has written down what Turner told him. (Along with a few Holy shit!-style asides.)
Turner, who taught himself to read at a young age and comes off as highly intelligent, claims that God communicates with him and ordered him to fight; what he describes matches pretty well with schizophrenia.
On the other hand, it also matches pretty well with God. Go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, He tells Samuel in 15:3-4. When asked, Do you not find yourself mistaken now? Turner answers, Was not Christ crucified. And by signs in the heavens that it would make known to me when I should commence the great work. Its a weird sentence structure, but you get the idea: only God knows the difference between a prophet and a schizophrenic.
Most of Turners confession is a step-by-step, almost laconic description of the revolt itself. Twas my object to carry terror and devastation wherever we went, he helpfully explains. As he goes he picks up a crowd of slaves, sometimes drunk, who (according to him) carried out most of the bloody work: I sometimes got in sight in time to see the work of death completed, viewed the mangled bodies as they lay, in silent satisfaction, and immediately started in quest of other victims.
Its disturbing stuff. Worth reading? Sure, yeah; its certainly not boring, and its very short. As a (probable) primary source about the effects and events of slavery, its interesting.
These actions are of course terrible, but then so is the institution of slavery that inspired them; they were technically a response in kind, so if you believe in an eye for an eye, you should have no problem with Nat Turner. It seems to me like we have to judge slavery first, and Turners response to it second.
History has decided that Turners rebellion was a bad idea: it led directly to the retributive murder of 200 slaves and the passage of new, even more restrictive laws prohibiting education and assembly, among other things. John Browns rebellion in 1860, on the other hand, is given credit as a spark for the Civil War. And I dont know, maybe Browns timing was more fortuitous and its nice that he didnt murder any babies, but in general Id say that both events were inevitable reactions to slavery. Turner pleaded not guilty to his charges, saying to his counsel, that he did not feel so. Fair enough.
Lone Star Statements
Some may be wondering who Nat Turner really was and how factual was the depiction in The Birth of a Nation. A passionate man, Turner never seemed to doubt his identity. Imbued with a sense of destiny, he became a preacher and the leader of African-American slaves in his neighborhood, both on and off the plantation. When he saw a solar eclipse in , he took it as a sign from god to rise up and lead fellow slaves in a rebellion against their owners. He and six other slaves murdered the Travis family, managed to enlist help from about seventy-five others, and successfully killed fifty-one white people with artillery and horses. Whether you think of him as a hero or a villain, Nat Turner was undoubtedly an intelligent and complicated man. While The Birth of a Nation paints Nat Turner as a hero, others have portrayed him with more complexity.
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The Confessions of Nat Turner
Back in May a paperback book turned up on best seller lists, where it has remained ever since. The paperback of Less was published on May 22nd. As of this writing, it is 26 on the print best seller list. That's more than three months on the best seller list, which these days is a pretty remarkable feat for a book of literary fiction. Awards sell books. Or they often do.
The truth has been buried more than years. Leading a small army of slaves, Nat Turner was a man born with a mission: to set the captives free. When words failed, Nat Turner ignited an uprising that left over fifty whites dead. One hundred eighty years ago, in the predawn hours of August 22, , Nat Turner stormed into history with a Bible in one hand, brandishing a sword in the other. Turner himself became a lightning rod for abolitionists like Harriet Beecher Stowe and a terror and secret shame for slave owners. The Resurrection of Nat Turner spans more than sixty years, sweeping from the majestic highlands of Ethiopia to the towns of Cross Keys and Jerusalem in Southampton County.
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. Set in , The Confessions Of Nat Turner tells--in his own words--of a black man who awaits death in a Virginia jail cell. His name is Nat Turner and he is a slave, a preacher, and the leader of the only effective slave revolt in the history of that 'peculiar institution.