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The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by…
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The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman

by Ernest J. Gaines

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1,0001112,258 (3.7)26
  1. 00
    Beloved by Toni Morrison (karmiel)
    karmiel: Both books include a strong woman who attempts to build her life as a free woman after escaping/exiting slavery.
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1971 book for birthday challenge.

It's so odd, I've had this book forever and yet had never read it, even though I had it come with me over all the moves over the years and it also has survived countless book culls over the years. I am not sure why that is. Honestly, it's probably better that I read it as an adult, and thus able to appreciate it more, rather than as a kid (which is when I got my copy).

Gaines writes this novel in autobiography format, which apparently was done well enough to fool many readers into thinking Miss Jane Pittman was a real person. Certainly, she felt realistic to me -- stubborn, strong-willed, and able to survive all that was thrown at her. Her story begins in the South, with Emancipation -- she becomes freed as a child. Then it continues with her involvement in the early days of the Civil Rights movement, which means this spans over 100 years.

Rather than a long saga that would attempt to cover all these years, Jane's story, and that of the people around her, consists of her (mostly chronological) recollections. Lots of sadness here and there, but her strong spirit keeps her going. Certainly this novel fits in the category of realistic fiction. It's a shame this book does not seem to be on many people's radar nowadays, given the issues that continue with racism. ( )
  ValerieAndBooks | Mar 13, 2017 |
Miss Jane Pittman could be your great-grandmother, she is that real of a character. I'm sure listening to this on audio had something to do with that perception. When 100 year old Miss Pittman tells her life story to an unidentified high school history teacher it's as if she is sitting in your living room. Beginning when she was ten years old and freed from slavery in the deep south, she recounts her journey to leave the Louisiana plantation she has known all her life. She is looking for the white abolitionist who gave her new "free" name. All she knows is that he is somewhere in Ohio. So, to Ohio she heads. Along the way she befriends an orphan boy and encounters seemingly overwhelming obstacles. But, I don't think it's a spoiler to say, overcome these obstacles, she does. She raises the orphan boy as her own and even though she doesn't make it out of Louisiana, forges a life for herself.
One point of observation is that while Miss Jane Pittman has lived a long life, you don't hear her talk a lot about her own personal life. She would rather discuss the people around her and how they influenced her. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Feb 15, 2017 |
First, I read this as part of the Southern Literary Trail Group, this was one of three January selections as a Pre 1980 read.

This is a fictional autobiography created by the author loosely based on a number of people who grew up with. What a great concept and gives meaning to the times and changes a person born of slavery, emancipated, and lives to see the civil rights movement and the changes that came from that movement.

You love Miss Pittman she is a noble character that you wish you had the opportunity to meet and chat with over tea or just a coca cola. ( )
  yvonne.sevignykaiser | Apr 2, 2016 |
I found that the story was very informative and well written. ( )
  JerseyGirl21 | Jan 24, 2016 |
To appreciate this book one has to accept that throughout the book bad things are going to happen, always. Jane survives the end of slavery and various turbulent times and participates in the civil rights movement and though she does enjoy some aspects of her life, she has many grim experiences. Many characters throughout the book have not had the opportunity for even basic literacy and several die in unfortunate ways. The world around Jane seemed to be a real construction, but Jane herself at times did not seem quite real. It is important to tell the story of the women Jane represents, and in this respect this was a valuable reading experience; nevertheless, I wanted to connect more with Jane and didn't quite get there. ( )
  karmiel | Jul 30, 2015 |
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Dedication
This book is dedicated to the memory of My grandmother, Mrs. Julia McVay, My Stepfather, Mr. Ralph Norbert Colar, Sr., and to the memory of My beloved aunt Miss Augusteen Jefferson, who did not walk a day in her life but who taught me the importance of standing.
First words
I had been trying to get Miss Jane Pittman to tell me the story of her life for several years now, but each time I asked her she told me there was no story to tell.
Quotations
...man come here to die, didn't he? That's the contract he signed when he was born...Now, all he can do while he's here is do something and do that thing good. (p. 93)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
The motion picture adaptation of Ernest J. Gaines' 1971 novel, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, is a separate work. Please do not combine the movie with the original novel. Thank you.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553263579, Paperback)

"This is a novel in the guise of the  tape-recorded recollections of a black woman who has  lived 110 years, who has been both a slave and a  witness to the black militancy of the 1960's. In this  woman Ernest Gaines has created a legendary figure,  a woman equipped to stand beside William  Faulkner's Dilsey in The Sound And The  Fury." Miss Jane Pittman, like Dilsey, has  'endured,' has seen almost everything and foretold the  rest. Gaines' novel brings to mind other  great works The Odyssey for the way  his heroine's travels manage to summarize the  American history of her race, and Huckleberry  Finn for the clarity of her voice, for  her rare capacity to sort through the mess of years  and things to find the one true story in it all."  -- Geoffrey Wolff, Newsweek.

"Stunning. I know of no  black novel about the South  that excludes quite the same refreshing mix of wit  and wrath, imagination and indignation, misery and  poetry. And I can recall no more memorable female  character in Southern fiction since Lena of  Faulkner's Light In August than Miss  Jane Pittman." -- Josh Greenfeld,  Life

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:16 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Presents the story of the long life of Miss Jane Pittman, who began her life as a slave in the South and who marched for her civil rights in the 20th century.

» see all 5 descriptions

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