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The Known World

The Known World

The Known World 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. Jones has woven a footnote of history into an epic that takes an unflinching look at slavery in all its moral complexities.

Chapter 1. Liaison. The Warmth of Family. Stormy Weather

Chapter 2. The Wedding Present. Dinner First, Then Breakfast. Prayers Before an Offering

Chapter 3. A Death in the Family. Where God Stands. Ten Thousand Combs

Chapter 4. Curiosities South of the Border. A Child Departs from the Way. The Education of Henry Townsend

Chapter 5. That Business Up in Arlington. A Cow Borrows a Life from a Cat. The Known World

Chapter 6. A Frozen Cow and a Frozen Dog. A Cabin in the Sky. The Taste of Freedom

Chapter 7. Job. Mongrels. Parting Shots

Chapter 8. Namesakes. Scheherazade. Waiting for the End of the World

Chapter 9. States of Decay. A Modest Proposal. Why Georgians Are Smarter

Chapter 10. A Plea Before the Honorable Court. Thirsty Ground. Are Mules Really Smarter Than Horses?

Chapter 11. A Mule Stands Up. Of Cadavers and Kisses and Keys. An American Poet Speaks of Poland and Mortality

Chapter 12. Sunday. Barnum Kinsey in Missouri. Finding a Lost Loved One

April 12, 1861