The Known World LP

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Harper Collins, Jun 15, 2004 - Fiction - 563 pages
96 Reviews
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From National Book Award-nominated author Edward P. Jones comes a debut novel of stunning emotional depth and unequaled literary power

Henry Townsend, a farmer, boot maker, and former slave, through the surprising twists and unforeseen turns of life in antebellum Virginia, becomes proprietor of his own plantation--as well his own slaves. When he dies, his widow Caldonia succumbs to profound grief, and things begin to fall apart at their plantation: slaves take to escaping under the cover of night, and families who had once found love under the weight of slavery begin to betray one another. Beyond the Townsend household, the known world also unravels: low-paid white patrollers stand watch as slave “speculators” sell free black people into slavery, and rumors of slave rebellions set white families against slaves who have served them for years.

An ambitious, courageous, luminously written masterwork, The Known World seamlessly weaves the lives of the freed and the enslaved--and allows all of us a deeper understanding of the enduring multidimensional world created by the institution of slavery. The Known World not only marks the return of an extraordinarily gifted writer, it heralds the publication of a remarkable contribution to the canon of American classic literature.


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User Review  - nivramkoorb - LibraryThing

This is a book that I have always wanted to read and finally gotten around to it. Over the years I have read many fictional books surrounding slavery and the black experience(for example the ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - nordie - LibraryThing

To be honest, I was reading this in bits and pieces, which probably didnt help things, but there also wasnt anything that made me want to sit down and read whole chunks in one go either. Was annoyed ... Read full review

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Page 454 - So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee, now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin ; for they did unto thee evil : and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father.
Page 79 - Gonion would never live comfortably in America, would never come to feel it was her own dear country. Long before the HMS Thames had even seen the American shore, America, the land of promise and hope, had reached out across the sea and taken her husband, a man who had taken her heart and...
Page 204 - Do what, Mama? What is it?" Pick the blueberries close to the ground, son. Them the sweetest, I find. If a white man say the trees can talk, can dance, you just say yes right...
Page 161 - All of us do only what the law and God tell us we can do. No one of us who believes in the law and God does more than that. Do you, Mr. Frazier? Do you do more than what is allowed by God and the law?
Page 217 - If they stayed with a family of means similar to their own, the supper might include couples from the same class and perhaps one, but generally only one, from William Robbins's class. They also stayed with people in Robbins's sphere, but when they ate with them, Skiffington and Winifred represented their class alone. As for the class that produced the patrollers, they were a hand-to-mouth people and invitations to anywhere were very rare.
Page 283 - trying to make him see matters in their true light," but at the same time declaring, with characteristic impudence, that he " could not understand how a man could bring himself to keep a woman with him by force when she did not want to have anything to do with him.
Page 96 - Henry had always said that he wanted to be a better master than any white man he had ever known. He did not understand that the kind of world he wanted to create was doomed before he had even spoken the first syllable of the word master.
Page 90 - The smallest smudge of dirt on one of his children's cheeks was important, but the death of his master was no more than the death of a fly in a foreign place he had never even heard of.
Page 258 - America on the map was smaller than it was in actuality, and where Florida should have been, there was nothing. South America seemed the right size, but it alone of the two continents was called "America.
Page 15 - Moses had thought that it was already a strange world that made him a slave to a white man, but God had indeed set it twirling and twisting every which way when he put black people to owning their own kind.

About the author (2004)

Edward P. Jones, the New York Times bestselling author, has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize, for fiction, the National Book Critics Circle award, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and the Lannan Literary Award for The Known World; he also received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2004. His first collection of stories, Lost in the City, won the PEN/Hemingway Award and was short listed for the National Book Award. His second collection, All Aunt Hagar’s Children, was a finalist for the Pen/Faulkner Award. He has been an instructor of fiction writing at a range of universities, including Princeton. He lives in Washington, D.C.

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