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Frederick Douglass and the Atlantic World$
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Fionnghuala Sweeney

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9781846310782

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846313141

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‘The Republic of Letters’: Frederick Douglass, Ireland and the Irish Narratives

‘The Republic of Letters’: Frederick Douglass, Ireland and the Irish Narratives

(p.13) Chapter 1 ‘The Republic of Letters’: Frederick Douglass, Ireland and the Irish Narratives
Frederick Douglass and the Atlantic World
Liverpool University Press

This chapter investigates the Irish editions of Frederick Douglass's first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself, published in 1845. The reprinting of the Narrative in Ireland highlighted the start of a stage in Douglass's literary career. The Irish Narrative, which emphasized the colonial history and the related issue of paternity, individual and cultural, also exceeded contemporary discussions of slavery as a localized American problem. Its introductory frames showed the tension between Douglass and US abolitionism, and also impacted upon the meaning and interpretation of the text in the wider transatlantic context in which it is encrypted. Such an edition reviewed the complicated path of that subjective and literary emergence, formally marking Douglass's accession to the coveted ‘republic of letters’.

Keywords:   Frederick Douglass, autobiography, US abolitionism, literary career, Ireland, colonial history, paternity, slavery

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