Windsor [VT]: Alden Spooner, 1807. Second edition. Contemporary roan over wood boards. Shelfwear causing loss of marbled paper front and rear, and approximately 1cm of loss to the foot of the rear board. Hinges cracked but holding well. Multiple early ownership signatures of Sally Goodwich and Henry Goodwich of Nottingham to front and rear pastedowns and endpapers. Gently toned throughout but otherwise unmarked. In all, a pleasing copy of a scarce captivity narrative that typically appears damaged or incomplete. Both the 1796 first edition and the 1807 second edition of this title are rare; the former has appeared only once at auction in the past 20 years, and the present only three times. While the first edition was largely composed by John C. Chamberlin based on Johnson's narration, this second edition was revised and amended by Johnson herself.
"It is now a critical commonplace that Early American women's captivity narratives offer scholars and students alike rich material for our investigations into subjectivity and identity. The texts' representations of gender, ethnicity, and race conveniently dovetail with theoretical work that seeks to reinterpret and expand the canon of Early American texts" (Carroll). And yet scholars of the period also note that these books are marked by "the persistent problem of authorial attribution...did a captive woman actually write the text herself or dictate it (with interpolated 'improvements') to another, usually male, hand?" (Carroll). At 144 pages, the Susannah Johnson narrative is among of the longest and most detailed texts of the genre; and as a book that was first compiled and composed by John C. Chamberlin from Johnson's testimony, then revised and amended by Johnson herself, it has stood among one of the most important case studies for scholars. In both versions, the narrative details the Johnson family's 1754 capture by an indigenous tribe (during which Susannah gave birth to a daughter, named Captive), enslavement and sale to various tribe members and to the French, separation, and attempts to gain freedom and reunite. Johnson's first person voice lends credibility to both versions. But scholars now note that while Chamberlin's first edition positions Johnson as a symbol of early American white femininity that could assist in rallying men of the early nation against indigenous people and cultures, Johnson's own narrative emphasizes the gritty, painful, and real traumas experienced by an individual.
Sabin 36327. Howes J153. Siebert 444. Ayer 12. (Item #3209)