Yup, we’ve got that one

And more than one million more. Become a member today and read free for two weeks.

Read free for two weeks

In one of the most acclaimed novels in recent memory, Edward P. Jones, two-time National Book Award finalist, tells the story of Henry Townsend, a black farmer and former slave who falls under the tutelage of William Robbins, the most powerful man in Manchester County, Virginia. Making certain he never circumvents the law, Townsend runs his affairs with unusual discipline. But when death takes him unexpectedly, his widow, Caldonia, can't uphold the estate's order and chaos ensues. In a daring and ambitious novel, Jones has woven a footnote of history into an epic that takes an unflinching look at slavery in all of its moral complexities.

This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.

Topics: Slavery, Race Relations, Friendship, Social Class, Realism, Civil War Period, and Virginia

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780061746369
List price: $11.99
Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
Availability for The Known World
With a 30 day free trial you can read online for free
  1. This book can be read on up to 6 mobile devices.
The book dealt with free blacks in the south who owned slaves. It was an interesting topic. However, it is hard to tell how much of the book is "typical" of the south and how much was fiction. In addition, the book was hard to follow because it jumped from forward and backwards in time a lot and it was hard to follow.more
First, the one positive comment that I can make about this book is that I learned about an aspect of American history about which I was not aware. It was his first novel and second book. Set in antebellum Virginia, it examines issues regarding the ownership of black slaves by free black people as well as by whites. A book with many points of view, The Known World paints an enormous canvas thick with personalities and situations that show how slavery destroys but can also be transcended. Beyond the historical aspect of the book the personalities and points of view were not clear to me. The result was an unsatisfying reading experience. It was one of the few times that I have disagreed with the Pulitzer Prize committee.more
This book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2004 and has received many rave reviews, both from critics and the general public. I am not among those who loved the book. I didn't hate it but it just didn't grab me.The book is mainly set in a fictional county in Virginia just shortly before the Civil War. Slavery was well established but there were also free blacks living in the county. Some of these free blacks owned slaves. One of them, Henry Townsend, has built up quite a plantation and owns a number of slaves. His mentor is a white plantation owner who was once his master until Henry's father managed to buy his freedom. Very close to the beginning of the book Henry dies at quite a young age. His wife tries to maintain the plantation (her legacy as her mother refers to it) and has an affair with the overseer who is a slave. Moses, the overseer, thinks he will marry the widow but he has to get rid of his wife and child. So he arranges for them to run off with a slave who has been pretending to be crazy. This disappearance leads to other slaves fleeing. Other tragedies visit the plantation. The widow refuses to give Moses his freedom and he runs off but goes the wrong direction. The sheriff deduces that he has gone to the farm where Henry's parents live and he goes to retrieve him. This ends with death and tragedy but life goes on for the rest of the characters in the novel.Although I have told this in a linear fashion the novel is not at all linear. We read about Henry's death and then we read about his father buying his own freedom and then his wife's and son's freedom. Then we read about Henry's wife marrying the illegitimate son of Henry's mentor. I've read other books that are not linear (The Time-Traveler's Wife springs to mind) and didn't mind it but I found it difficult to follow this book. Partly that was also due to the number of characters in the book that are followed for a while and then dropped, sometimes for chapters. Finally, I didn't have an attachment to any of the characters. Other than Henry's father and mother they seemed to deserve their fates and they didn't really believe there was anything wrong with slavery.For a much better version of how slavery affected people I recommend The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill.more
I don't think this book should have received as many accolades as it did. It had an interesting topic which you don't hear much of...free blacks who owned slaves. I did not like the format of this book at all. The stories jumped all over the place with some of it a retelling of the authors research almost as if he was reading them from him anecdotal notes. Just o.k. nothing spectacular here for me.more
Read all 76 reviews

Reviews

The book dealt with free blacks in the south who owned slaves. It was an interesting topic. However, it is hard to tell how much of the book is "typical" of the south and how much was fiction. In addition, the book was hard to follow because it jumped from forward and backwards in time a lot and it was hard to follow.more
First, the one positive comment that I can make about this book is that I learned about an aspect of American history about which I was not aware. It was his first novel and second book. Set in antebellum Virginia, it examines issues regarding the ownership of black slaves by free black people as well as by whites. A book with many points of view, The Known World paints an enormous canvas thick with personalities and situations that show how slavery destroys but can also be transcended. Beyond the historical aspect of the book the personalities and points of view were not clear to me. The result was an unsatisfying reading experience. It was one of the few times that I have disagreed with the Pulitzer Prize committee.more
This book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2004 and has received many rave reviews, both from critics and the general public. I am not among those who loved the book. I didn't hate it but it just didn't grab me.The book is mainly set in a fictional county in Virginia just shortly before the Civil War. Slavery was well established but there were also free blacks living in the county. Some of these free blacks owned slaves. One of them, Henry Townsend, has built up quite a plantation and owns a number of slaves. His mentor is a white plantation owner who was once his master until Henry's father managed to buy his freedom. Very close to the beginning of the book Henry dies at quite a young age. His wife tries to maintain the plantation (her legacy as her mother refers to it) and has an affair with the overseer who is a slave. Moses, the overseer, thinks he will marry the widow but he has to get rid of his wife and child. So he arranges for them to run off with a slave who has been pretending to be crazy. This disappearance leads to other slaves fleeing. Other tragedies visit the plantation. The widow refuses to give Moses his freedom and he runs off but goes the wrong direction. The sheriff deduces that he has gone to the farm where Henry's parents live and he goes to retrieve him. This ends with death and tragedy but life goes on for the rest of the characters in the novel.Although I have told this in a linear fashion the novel is not at all linear. We read about Henry's death and then we read about his father buying his own freedom and then his wife's and son's freedom. Then we read about Henry's wife marrying the illegitimate son of Henry's mentor. I've read other books that are not linear (The Time-Traveler's Wife springs to mind) and didn't mind it but I found it difficult to follow this book. Partly that was also due to the number of characters in the book that are followed for a while and then dropped, sometimes for chapters. Finally, I didn't have an attachment to any of the characters. Other than Henry's father and mother they seemed to deserve their fates and they didn't really believe there was anything wrong with slavery.For a much better version of how slavery affected people I recommend The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill.more
I don't think this book should have received as many accolades as it did. It had an interesting topic which you don't hear much of...free blacks who owned slaves. I did not like the format of this book at all. The stories jumped all over the place with some of it a retelling of the authors research almost as if he was reading them from him anecdotal notes. Just o.k. nothing spectacular here for me.more
I started this book three times before I managed to get all the way through it. I've thought about why it seemed so uninspiring to read despite the fact that many passages were written in interesting ways. I think it is because there was little identifiable as a plot. There was certainly not presented obvious conflicts that needed to be resolved except in a few individuals minds. The last third of the book was the most interesting. I would not say this is a must read from the perspective of the story telling, but it an important read with regard to the difficult subject mater around slavery.more
Load more
scribd