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The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  7,946 ratings  ·  210 reviews
"This is a novel in the guise of thetape-recorded recollections of a black woman who haslived 110 years, who has been both a slave and awitness to the black militancy of the 1960's. In thiswoman Ernest Gaines has created a legendary figure,a woman equipped to stand beside WilliamFaulkner's Dilsey in The Sound And TheFury." Miss Jane Pittman, like Dilsey, has'endured,' has ...more
Kindle Edition, Bantam Books, 272 pages
Published October 24th 2012 by Random House (first published January 1st 1971)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mike
Dec 09, 2012 Mike rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Mike by: Jessie, Member goodreads group On the Southern Literary Trail
The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman: Ernest J. Gaines' novel of the long journey to freedom

A Note from the incomplete reader

The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman was originally published by Ernest J. Gainesthrough the Dial Press in 1971. A second printing followed in 1972.

Pittmanfirstedition
The Second Printing

However, it was not until 1974 when Gaine's novel was filmed as a television movie that sales mushroomed with the issue of the mass-market Bantam Paperback tie-in edition. The movie aired on CBS. Cicely
...more
Laura
I love Gaines easy writing style. One the best protagonist in southern literature. Excellent!
Emily
I am kind of stingy with my ratings -- I would make it a 2 1/2 if I could, because it was better than "okay" but I didn't quite "like" it. I didn't DISlike it, either. After reading "The Help," I wanted to read some more historical fiction taking place during the Civil Rights Movement. This biography was suggested to me by the librarian, and it was a pretty easy read. It followed the life of Jane Pittman from her childhood as a slave through emancipation, trying to get out of Louisiana, then as ...more
E
This is a very impressive epic adorned with humor and founded in the lessons of overcoming tragedy either through battle or sheer resilience. As a novel itself it is wonderfully written in a lyrical prose with great, revealing dialogue. It is, however, much more than a novel.

I had to read it over ten years ago in eighth grade history class, yet I can still recall the many different stories comprising the biography, nearly chronicling all the various manifestations of race relations throughout Am
...more
Ivannah
Mar 24, 2008 Ivannah rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Ivannah by: 1001 novels to read before you die
Shelves: favorites
I read this book in two sittings. It wasn't easy at first, but once you got introduced to Miss Jane Pittman the rest was easy. How could you not love a character, a woman, so enduring? How could you not weep at the loss of her only "son". This story is written richly, and with so much emotion that you can't help but to pull for her. Though, the subject matter was dark, the book itself wasn't dark. There were times when you heart ached because of all the suffering, and despair. When they were hop ...more
Mya Sunshine
Ernest Gaines has been trying for so long to get in interview with the legendary Miss.Jane Pittman. This book practically covers her whole life story going from her childhood when she was still in slavery to when the war was going to her sons life to where she is now.
I have read the book so many times but i always feel that I am learning something new every time I read it again.As of my response to this story I feel like he did a really good job putting it together and making sure that he got al
...more
Jean Poulos
February is Black History Month. I usually attempt to read a book about black history or read a book written by a black author or both. This year I decided to read a novel I read back in 1971 when the book first came out. Since then the book has become a classic. A movie was made in 1974 starring Cicely Tyson. I sort of remember the movie was good. I think I shall check to see if Amazon has the movie and will watch it after I finish the book.

The book is fiction but is written in the style of ora
...more
Caroline
I adored this book. Its sensitivity in discussing relations among southerners of all ages and colors during a time when the courts were legalizing Jim Crow segregation was rich and provocative. Frankly, I thought the book did a better job of explaining life in the Jim Crow South than half the history books I read.

I'm sure it had a great ending, too, but unfortunately some a$$hole stole it, along with my car. And now the library wants $94 to replace. Ay yay yay.
538pm_stephanie
The novel tells the story of Miss Jane Pittman, a 110 year old African American woman who tells the story of her life. Her story spans from the end of the Civil War to the beginning of the Vietnam War, highlighting different historical events and figures. Jane's accounts help put in perspective what it must have been like to be an African American during those times and highlight why the civil rights movement was so important for our country. While the story is told from Jane's view point, the i ...more
Charles Franklin
An incredible family saga...
Alexa
The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines is an inspiring autobiography. The reason why I chose to read this autobiography is because the cover caught my eye. The picture of Cicely Tyson on the front cover which plays Jane Pittman. I haven’t seen the movie but I’m sure that I will better understand times from before and the struggle of surviving. I also picked it because biographies inspire me most of the time because they always have struggles they overcome to become a greater ...more
Maia B.
I couldn't finish.

The first hundred pages were great, don't get me wrong. Jane fascinated me; her "voice" was clear and strong and her personality came through distinctly. The events she lived through were really interesting. Then...well, she sort of gave up going to Ohio.

After a while, she began to say things like, "I found a job and stayed there ten years." This Robinson Crusoe way of skipping over vast stretches of time drove me crazy. And then Mary Agnes and Tee Bob...it was starting to soun
...more
kisha
Every since I was a little girl I have had a strange obsession with the past. 19th century black slavery is my favorite era, than 1940's, than 1960's. I love the Harlem Renaissance, I love all things civil rights, but it's something about 19th century slavery. Cabins, white women dresses with the petticoat underneath, dirt roads, the "big house," horse and buggies for cars, the dialect, the stories, and most importantly the messages. My mother's ex-boyfriend forced me to watch the entire miniser ...more
Anneta Susan
The voice this author had impressed me and was the first thing that made this book a true classic. His writing was declamatory and very clear. I respected how the author could tell the stories of other characters through the narrative of Miss. Jane Pittman and make each one, from the teachers to her son unforgettable. At first when Jane Pittman didn't achive arriving in Colorado I was concerned with what the author was going to do next and how he could make her into a heroine. She was a strong p ...more
Linda
I'm not sure how I ever go this far without reading this. I'm glad I've fixed that oversight.

I remember seeing the television movie back in the 70's but though I can remember having watched it I don't remember much of anything about it so reading the book was a fresh experience.

Gaines has produced one of those novels that feels more like nonfiction than fiction. His characters feel real, like they are products of the eras and places they inhabit. Though I never lived through the events described
...more
Rebecca Ann
A work of fiction chronicling a life from the time of slavery to the civil rights era? Wow, I feel smarter already.

Meet Miss Jane Pittman, a 110-year-old black woman who lives on a plantation making meager wages from her white boss. She’s not a slave anymore, but she might as well be. She and her fellow workers break their backs on the farm and receive next to nothing. Undereducated but smart as a whip, Miss Jane is quite a character. An unnamed schoolteacher convinces her to let him document he
...more
Cliff Dolph
This novel, which I find as credible as any memoir, spans a century. At the beginning, there's a framing narrative in which Miss Jane Pittman, at 100-plus-years of age, agrees to tell her story to someone who has long sought it. The rest of the novel is her story.

It commences with the emancipation of the slaves--with Jane taking her name from a Yankee soldier, learning that the President has freed the slaves, and deciding to join a group that's leaving the plantation. The novel lingers over thi
...more
Annie
Miss Jane Pittman
What I like about the book is that Miss Pittman was a very strong woman even with all the pain she went though. I like Ned the little boy Miss Pittman helped get away from the war. Ned grew up to be a teacher so he could go back and teach the other children. Miss Pittman admired the fact that he cared about the children’s education. The Yankee officer was a good character because he was so nice; he cared about people that were being treated like unkind. Maybe because he thought
...more
John
Gaines is a master with voices. I came away from the book feeling sad, because I wanted to spend more time with Miss Jane.

I also learned some surprising things about history-- from slavery and the civil war, to the civil rights period--details I haven't seen elsewhere.

It's hard to say which I like more-- A Lesson Before Dying or this book. I think Lesson is probably richer on more levels, but like I said, Miss Jane it just someone you really want to know. I can't wait to read more of Gaines' bo
...more
Samantha Wing
I makes me feel really sorry for Jane she started as a slave going to freedom and then getting turned back into a slave. It's really hard for me to imagine what life was for a African American, but it sounds like that they hard super hard time. I really hate when when people get killed and for a reason. Miss Lily is kinda harsh on the kids. I still can't get the book. There are way to many facts. So many fact that I can't keep track of.
scherzo♫
Wrenched my heart over and over.

Still thinking about this:
Then I found the flint and iron Big Laura had used to light the fire with. Both of them looked like pieces of rock, so anytime anybody asked me what they was I just told them, "Two little rocks." I gived them to Ned and told him it was go'n be his job to see that they got to Ohio same time we did. After I had covered up Big Laura and the child with some clothes, I put the buncle on my head and we started out. Every now and then I asked N
...more
courtney
I first read this in order to teach it to 9th graders 3 years ago and fell in love with it. I was dreading teaching it again this year, but as I reread it, I fell in love with it over again. Its the book I teach that best sucks my students into the world of its characters.
Laura
Feb 25, 2008 Laura rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Black History Month
Recommended to Laura by: Book Club
The book started off well, but I basically finished it for a bookclub. The writing became disjointed, and I never felt like I connected to the character of Jane Pittman after she reached adulthood.
Shana Burton
Mar 27, 2008 Shana Burton rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: low-interest, apathetic high school students
I really like this book. I've taught it to my 9th grade classes, who were so captivated by this book that I didn't have the heart to tell them that it was fiction.
Ingrid
Copied from Jean's Review...

February is Black History Month. I usually attempt to read a book about black history or read a book written by a black author or both. This year I decided to read a novel I read back in 1971 when the book first came out. Since then the book has become a classic. A movie was made in 1974 starring Cicely Tyson. I sort of remember the movie was good. I think I shall check to see if Amazon has the movie and will watch it after I finish the book.

The book is fiction but is
...more
Kathy
It's hard to believe this is fiction, but it's also hard to comprehend that this was a realistic portrayal of the American South between about 1862-1962.
Deb
Jane Pittman's storytelling begins just before the emancipation of slaves, following the Civil War. When she finds out she is free, she immediately sets out for the state of Ohio, thinking she will reunite with Yankee Corporel Brown. Corporel Brown gives her the first taste of freedom she ever enjoys, when he changes her name from her slave name, Ticey to Jane.

After Jane receives her freedom, she walks for days, but still finds herself in "Luzana." It is in the Deep South that Jane continues to
...more
Shelley
An engrossing and inspiring life story, that caused me to stop and think often.
Cass Barlow
This was a great book, rich in history.
Alyssa
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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What was the funniest part of this book? 1 8 Oct 01, 2012 02:56PM  
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Born to a sharecropping family, Ernest Gaines was picking cotton in the fields by age nine and only attended school five or six months a year. When he was fifteen, he moved to California to join his mother who had relocated during World War II, and began writing. He attended San Francisco State University, served in the army, and won a writing fellowship to Stanford University. Gaines has been a M ...more
More about Ernest J. Gaines...
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“Anytime a child is born, the old people look in his face and ask him if he's the One.” 6 likes
“That's man's way. To prove something. Day in, day out he must prove he is a man. Poor Fool.” 1 likes
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