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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya…

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (original 1969; edition 1983)

by Maya Angelou

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7,685106439 (3.94)289
Title:I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Authors:Maya Angelou
Info:Bantam (1983), Mass Market Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (1969)


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English (105)  Dutch (1)  All languages (106)
Showing 1-5 of 105 (next | show all)
This is a first-hand account of growing up black and female in depression-era USofA. Re-visiting the years from around age 3 to 17, Angelou imbues her narrative with humour and grace. At times, she comes across as a bit too altruistic but it's clear that she lived a life of strength through adversity. There are some laugh-out-loud funny moments, ("I say, Preach it!"), and many poignant observations, ("If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat. It is an unnecessary insult.")

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a relatively short and easy read. There are apparently more installments that complete her full memoir. I will have to look them up as I found this first volume fascinating. ( )
  ScoLgo | Dec 4, 2014 |
Frankly, Maya, I don't give a damn why the caged bird sings. ( )
2 vote EnriqueFreeque | Oct 11, 2014 |
This is a re-read "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" again, after many years ago. This time around, I feel even more compelled to read the rest of Maya Angelou's autobiographical series (I am not sure if I was aware then that there were more). In this first volume, Angelou recalls her early life from early childhood to about the age of 18. She writes beautifully but this doesn't cover up the ugliness of some incidents of her life in pre-Civil-Rights America; her writing serves to be extremely compelling. Angelou does recall her remarkable grandmother and other members of her family who were part of the formation of Angelou's being. Loved reading this book and I'm definitely following through and searching for the next one of her seven memoirs, "Gather Together in My Name". ( )
  ValerieAndBooks | Sep 23, 2014 |
She's a good writer. This is an autobiography. Growing up black and segregated. I enjoyed it at first but got tired of it. Kind of repetitious. ( )
  pdepena | Jul 25, 2014 |
I know I read this for school at some point as well...9th grade maybe?



In Stamps the segregation was so complete that most Black children didn't really, absolutely know what whites looked like. Other than that they were different, to be dreaded, and in that dread was included the hostility of the powerless against the powerful, the poor against the rich, the worker against the worked for and the ragged against the well dressed. (20)

Turning off or tuning out people was my highly developed art. The custom of letting obedient children be seen but not heard was so agreeable to me that I went one step further: Obedient children should not see or hear if they chose not to do so. (church, 34)

But what mother and daughter understand each other, or even have the sympathy for each other's lack of understanding? (57)

It was the same old quandary. I had always lived it. There was an army of adults, whose motives and movements I couldn't understand and who made no effort to understand mine. (rape, 62)

Children's talent to endure stems from their ignorance of alternatives. (Saturdays, 94)

Like most self-pitying people, I had very little pity for my relatives' anxiety. (Bailey missing, 95)

It was awful to be Negro and have no control over my life. It was brutal to be young and already trained to sit quietly and listen to charges brought against my color with no chance of defense. (graduation, 153)

[Bailey] was away in a mystery, locked in the enigma that young Southern Black boys start to unravel, start to try to unravel, from seven years old to death. The humorless puzzle of inequality and hate. (drowned man, 168)

The quality of strength lined with tenderness is an unbeatable combination, as are intelligence and necessity when unblunted by formal education. (Daddy Clidell, 186)

The needs of a society determine its ethics... (crime, 190)

"We are the victims of the world's most comprehensive robbery. Life demands a balance. It's all right if we do a little robbing now." (191)

I believe most plain girls are virtuous because of the scarcity of the opportunity to be otherwise. (239)
  JennyArch | Jul 8, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 105 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Maya Angelouprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rutten, KathleenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This book is dedicated to my son
Guy Johnson,
and all the strong black birds of promise who defy the odds and gods and sing their songs
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James Baldwin Writes:

This testimony from a Black sister marks the beginning of a new era in the minds and hearts and lives of all Black men and women...
I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS liberates the reader into life simply because Maya Angelou confronts her own life with such a moving wonder, such a luminous dignity. I have no words for this achievement, but I know that not since the days of my childhood, when the people in books were more real than the people one saw every day, have I found myself so moved ...
her portrait is a Biblical study of life in the midst of death."

The Moving and Beautiful autobiography of a talented black woman. She continues her story in gather together in GATHER TOGETHER IN MY NAME, SINGIN' AND SWINGIN' AND GETTIN' MERRY LIKE CHRISTMAS and THE HEART OF A WOMAN.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553279378, Mass Market Paperback)

In this first of five volumes of autobiography, poet Maya Angelou recounts a youth filled with disappointment, frustration, tragedy, and finally hard-won independence. Sent at a young age to live with her grandmother in Arkansas, Angelou learned a great deal from this exceptional woman and the tightly knit black community there. These very lessons carried her throughout the hardships she endured later in life, including a tragic occurrence while visiting her mother in St. Louis and her formative years spent in California--where an unwanted pregnancy changed her life forever. Marvelously told, with Angelou's "gift for language and observation," this "remarkable autobiography by an equally remarkable black woman from Arkansas captures, indelibly, a world of which most Americans are shamefully ignorant."

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:01:36 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Presents the story of a spirited and gifted, but poor, black girl growing up in the South in the 1930's. Tells how she came into her own, experiencing prejudice, family difficulties, and a relationship with a teacher who taught her to respect books, learning, and herself. The moving and beautiful autobiography of a talented black woman. "I have no words for this achievement, but I know that not since the days of my childhood have I found myself so moved. Her portrait is a Biblical study of life in the midst of death".-James Baldwin.… (more)

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