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The Known World

Jones, Edward P. (Book - 2003 )
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Known World
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Item Details

Henry Townsend, a black farmer, bootmaker, and former slave, has a fondness for Paradise Lost and an unusual mentor -- William Robbins, perhaps the most powerful man in antebellum Virginia's Manchester County. Under Robbins's tutelage, Henry becomes proprietor of his own plantation -- as well as of 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 beneath the weight of slavery begin to betray one another. Beyond the Townsend estate, 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, luminously written novel that ranges seamlessly between the past and future and back again to the present, The Known World weaves together the lives of freed and enslaved blacks, whites, and Indians -- and allows all of us a deeper understanding of the enduring multidimensional world created by the institution of slavery.
Authors: Jones, Edward P.
Title: The known world
Publisher: New York : Amistad, c2003.
Edition: 1st ed.
Characteristics: 388 p. ;,24 cm.
Local Note: Accelerated Reader AR 58 10220
ISBN: 0060557540
0060557559
Statement of Responsibility: Edward P. Jones
Study Program: Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.8 22.0 Quiz: 73563.
Subject Headings: Virginia Fiction. Slaves Fiction. Slavery Fiction. Plantation life Fiction. African American slaveholders Fiction. African American plantation owners Fiction.
Genre/Form: Historical fiction.
Historical fiction.
Topical Term: Slaves
Slavery
Plantation life
African American slaveholders
African American plantation owners
LCCN: 2003040389
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Library Staff

Caldonia Townsend is an educated black slaveowner, the widow of a well-loved young farmer named Henry, whose parents had bought their own freedom, and then freed their son, only to watch him buy himself a slave as soon as he had saved enough money. Although a fair and gentle master by the standar... Read More »


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Apr 12, 2014
  • sxl rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

elucidates the complexity of individuals, black, white, mixed....the lines blur and criss-cross with skin color and morality.

Mar 17, 2014
  • lukasevansherman rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

This won the Pulitzer and was in a Times list of the best American novels since 1980. So maybe I went in with unreasonable expectations. I did appreciate this story of race and the wages of slavery in the South, with its echoes of Faulkner, Morrison and Twain without really getting into it.

Aug 15, 2013
  • samutavi rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

I wish they would not label books as "Winner of the Pulitzer Prize". It always gets your hopes up. Then, if you read it and don't love it you think there is something wrong with you (am I not smart enough for this book?). I did not love this book. I'm impressed by Jones' ability to develop such a large, varied cast of characters, but his passing references to future events (character deaths and other eventual plot points) took me out of the moment again and again. That technique robbed the story of its potential power and immediacy.

Apr 09, 2012
  • lalalady rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Detailed and nuanced story of the effects of living with oppression. A slow and somber read with no relief, but it does draw you into a world that is nearly impossible to imagine.

Apr 28, 2011
  • carol554 rated this: 1.5 stars out of 5.

This novel opens with immediacy and unforgettable descriptions. It quickly loses momentum, however.

Feb 27, 2010
  • Darrelln rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Interesting book about slavery. Very well written but not a barn burner. One man's attempt to get away and horrible slave owners.

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