Title: Narrative of a Five Years' Expedition ...
Publisher: J. Johnson & Th. Payne, London
Publication Date: 1813
Book Condition: Very Good
xviii, 423, [blank], ; iv,419,  pages; plus and engraved frontispiece, 2 folding maps, 78 plates, sixteen by William Blake. The most famous account of slavery in the Americas in the 18th century. Stedman spent four years as a soldier in Dutch Suriname, beginning in 1773, working to put down a slave rebellion. Stedman was a keen observer of culture and natural history, but he was no abolitionist and owned at least one slave himself. His account of his affair with a slave named Joanna became the stuff of romance (and was reprinted separately in the 19th century), yet he did not buy her freedom. Stedman did, however, ransom their son, who became a British naval officer. His participation in the peculiar institution and his decisive military action against escaped slaves gave his accounts of the barbarity of the institution the ring of unassailable truth. In its review of the first edition, the London Review and Literary Journal (January 1797), wrote: ?The horrible instances of cruelty, which he narrates with dreadful minuteness, would dispose every real friend to mankind to reprobate, in the most decided manner, both the Slave-trade and its votaries?Most of his readers will probably be disgusted with a picture, too frequently exhibited, of shocking, inconceivable, and gratuitous barbarity.? (Modern scholarship based on Stedman's original manuscript and journals has shown that the publisher revised the book to downplay the anti-slavery elements). In the four decades after its original publication, Stedman's Narrative went through at least 18 editions in five languages, and is often credited with influencing Europe's abolition of slavery. According to VS Naipaul, in The Middle Passage, Stedman's 'nauseous catalogue of atrocities resembles accounts of German concentration camps during the last war.' Today, however, the books influence has been given over to the engravings of slave conditions made by Stedman's friend, William Blake. 'Within [Blake?s] sixteen engravings are some of the most terrifying images that would ever come before the eyes of the British public. Some of them have permanently lodged themselves in the collective consciousness, showing up in today?s academic marketplace with assertive rapidity, as book covers, illustrations, and exhibits in scholarly arguments. ?Europe Supported by Africa & America?, which has been reproduced more than almost any other image from the romantic period, has ensured that slavery remains as intimate as a glance' (Debbie Lee, Slavery in the Romantic Imagination, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002, p. 66). Second edition, second issue (identical to 1806 edition but with a re-dated title page). All the plates and maps have full, original handcolor. Probably a large-paper copy, with leaves measuring 9 by 11 inches (these dimensions match the last two handcolored copies sold at auction. According to Richard and Sally Price, editors of the 1992 critical edition, tedman's Suriname, the large-paper copies were the only ones issued with handcoloring. The binding on this copy is a rather pedestrian 20th century half blue-green cloth over gray paper boards; with leather spine labels, possibly original. Bookseller Inventory # 49508
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