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Middle Passage af Charles Johnson

Middle Passage (original 1990; udgave 1990)

af Charles Johnson

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
1,1741312,294 (3.75)38
Middle Passage
Titel:Middle Passage
Forfattere:Charles Johnson
Info:Atheneum (1990), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 209 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
Nøgleord:american history, early modern history, fiction

Detaljer om værket

Middle Passage af Charles Johnson (1990)

  1. 00
    The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World af Greg Grandin (pitjrw)
    pitjrw: Complimentary treatments of slavery and slave revolts in the context of American ideology and self deception.
  2. 00
    Sacred Hunger af Barry Unsworth (rebeccanyc)
    rebeccanyc: While Middle Passage is a complex, philosophical, and psychological look not only at the slave trade but also at the African-American experience more broadly, Sacred Hunger, which also focuses on the slave trade, is a more straightforward historical novel.… (mere)
  3. 00
    Kidnappet af Robert Louis Stevenson (thesmellofbooks)
    thesmellofbooks: Young men in dire straits on the open seas, a background of oppression, and historical richness are a few of the elements these books share. They are both ripping good yarns.

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» Se også 38 omtaler

Viser 1-5 af 13 (næste | vis alle)
Okay, I recognize that I am not as perceptive as some readers in understanding why an author takes certain approaches and uses certain techniques. I am bright enough to recognize what is being done most of the time, but not always able to determine why it is being done. This is the case with Middle Passage. For instance,

I recognize that the narrator's (Calhoun) voice is much different at the beginning of the story than in later journal entries. What I struggled with is that in the first few journal entries it felt like this individual was from the 1960's or 70's, not the 1830's. Also, Calhoun is very funny, glib, light-hearted in the early entries, but his tone better aligns with the events later in the story. This discrepancy seems odd since he did not begin writing the journal entries until later in the storyline.

I did not understand the existence of the Allmuseri's god below decks. What did he represent? What was he supposed to bring to the story? It brought an aspect of the mystical to a story that seemed like it would have been more powerful staying in the real-world.

Events in the plot seemed too convenient. The uprising by the Allmuseri's happened so closely to when the mutiny was to take place. Calhoun gets saved by a ship on which Papa and Isadora are passengers?

What are we to think of Calhoun? He provides the key to Ngonyama supposedly to help the Allmuseri's gain their freedom, but at other times he speaks highly of the reliance between he and his shipmates that is necessary to survive. He gives up the group of his shipmates including Cringle--a man he supposedly admires at some level, who are planning the mutiny, to Falcon--a man he supposedly detests. Clearly, Calhoun is confused about his allegiances. I am confused about what I can find to like or admire about the guy.

I recognize that Calhoun's ideas of what he wants from life and what freedom means to him changes as a result of his experiences, but then who wouldn't be transformed by what he survived?

I am sure at least some of my comments are my inability as a reader to measure up to the novel, but when there is this much that bothers me I tend to think it is not all me. ( )
  afkendrick | Oct 24, 2020 |
A beautiful tale written by a gifted author. ( )
  danhammang | Sep 22, 2015 |
The Middle Passage was the notoriously deadly second leg of the so-called triangular slave trade, the leg that brought the enslaved Africans from their homes to the US and the Caribbean, and in this book it is not only that but also the passage of the protagonist, freed slave Rutherford Calhoun, from his ne'er-do-well youth to a better understanding of the choices he can make about how he wants to live. Those seeking a traditional historical novel should look elsewhere, because while much of this book is searingly historical, much also springs from the creatively fictional mind of Johnson, so that there are events that are improbable and coincidental and language and words that would not have been around in the 1830s. It seems to me that Johnson, while focusing on the horrors (and some are not for the faint of heart) of the slave trade and telling an engaging story, also wants the book to reflect the African-American experience more broadly. There's a lot going on in this book, including philosophical discussions and a look at (mostly bad) father-son relationships.

Rutherford Calhoun grew up enslaved in Illinois with a slave-owner who educated him in western literature and philosophy and then freed him; he then headed to New Orleans where he lived the life of a thief and a womanizer. When threatened by a local crime king, Papa Zeringue, with a forced marriage to schoolteacher Isadora in exchange for having his many debts forgiven, he gets drunk and stows away on a slaving ship, the interestingly named Republic. Thus, his nightmare begins, for the captain is a psychologically and physically deformed tyrant and the ship is on its last legs. In Africa, they take on a cargo of the Allmuseri, a mysterious (and imaginary) tribe who allegedly have magical powers, along with a special crate acquired by the captain and stored in the hold, the contents of which are subject of much speculation and fear.

As the return voyage begins, there is trouble on the ship: the craziness of the captain, the discontent of the crew, terrible weather, and of course the anger of the captives. Rutherford becomes something of a go-between with the Africans, as the only black man on the ship, especially with a man named Ngonyama who has learned some English and serves as a translator. (One of the improbable aspects of this book is the ease with which everyone communicates.) He is also friendly with Cringle, the first mate, and Squibb, the usually inebriated cook (whose assistant he is), and becomes very fond of a young Allmuseri girl, Baleka. Disasters happen, some gruesome; Rutherford becomes acquainted with the being in the crate in the hold and gets dangerously sick; a big coincidence takes place; and Rutherford, very thoughtfully, comes into his own.

I started out thinking this was a straightforward action and anti-slavery novel, and Johnson certainly keeps the plot moving along, but I gradually realized it was much more complex, philosophical, and psychological, and that it was aiming higher than a traditional historical novel. Additionally I had to suspend disbelief and go with the flow of Johnson's imagination.

As a final note, I've had this book on the TBR since 1991. I decided to read it after reading Sacred Hunger. They are very different books, but complementary.
5 stem rebeccanyc | May 30, 2014 |
Amazing! Pirate adventure + slave narrative + elder god straight out of Lovecraft shows up and breaks shit. Hells yeah!!! I stuff this book in every high school student's face who comes into my classroom and asks for something to read. ( )
1 stem danconsiglio | Apr 1, 2010 |
At once a novel of the Middle Passage and a novel of adventure and the sea. A worthy winner of the National Book Award in 1990. ( )
  zenosbooks | Feb 25, 2009 |
Viser 1-5 af 13 (næste | vis alle)
Both [Middle Passage and The Wizard of Oz] say so much about the illusions of our society and the freedom and disappointments in life; however, the one point that echoes the loudest to me is that Rutherford and Dorothy's experiences lead to self-discovery, which is always a good thing.

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Homo est quo dammodo omnia -- Saint Thomas Aquinas
What port awaits us, Davy Jones' or home? I've heard of slavers drifting, drifting, playthings of wind and storm and chance, their crews gone bind, the jungle hatred crawling up on deck. -- Robert Hayden "Middle Passage"
Who sees variety and not the Unity wanders on from death to death -- Brihad-aranyaka Upanishad
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Middle Passage

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