The Odyssey of Phillis Wheatley: A Poet’s Journeys Through American Slavery and Independence

Recorded Books. Apr. 2023. 17:01 hrs. ISBN 9781705090947. $29.99. BIOG
Waldstreicher (history, CUNY Graduate Center; Slavery’s Constitution) brings his expertise in 18th-century history to bear in this extensive treatise on poet Phillis Wheatley. Waldstreicher delves into the history of this extraordinary woman, renowned in her own time, as well as her poetic works and legacy. Kim Staunton narrates with warmth and precision, walking listeners through Waldstreicher’s in-depth analysis of Wheatley’s poems. Listeners will note the influence of Christian themes and neoclassical references to Greek gods and Homer’s Odyssey. They may be intrigued to see how the dissection of the meter and verse of Wheatley’s poetry exposes satirical double entendre. Wheatley’s words reveal her shrewd understanding of events around her, pointing out how hypocritical it was for colonists to fight for independence from British rule while denying liberty to enslaved Africans. Her genius debunked the stance that Africans were intellectually inferior, and she did it in verse.
VERDICT Poetry, history, and politics make excellent bedfellows. This engrossing biography, engaging in audio, is a recommended purchase for all libraries.
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