Cover image for Ernest J. Gaines : a critical companion
Title:
Ernest J. Gaines : a critical companion
Author:
Carmean, Karen.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn : Greenwood Press, [1998]

©1998
Physical Description:
xi, 167 pages ; 25 cm.
Language:
English
Contents:
Life of Ernest J. Gaines -- Genres -- Catherine Carmier (1964) -- Of love and dust (1967) -- Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1971) -- In my father's house (1978) -- Gathering of old men (1938) -- Lesson before dying (1994) -- Short stories: Bloodline (1968).
Geographic Term:
ISBN:
9780313302862
Format :
Book

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PS3557.A355 Z62 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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PS3557.A355 Z62 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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PS3557.A355 Z62 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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PS3557.A355 Z62 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Summary

Summary

Drawing on his rich Louisiana past, Ernest J. Gaines creates a fictional world representative of the human experience. His work explores the complex racial relationships--so much a part of Southern history and culture--and the unwritten and unspoken conventions of caste and class. Often structured around journeys of discovery, Gaines' works affirm the integrity of the individual and the unequivocal place in American life for Americans of African descent. This study offers a clear, accessible reading of Gaines' fiction. It analyzes in turn all of Gaines' novels as well as his collection of short stories. A complete bibliography of Gaines' fiction, as well as selected reviews and criticism, completes the study.

Following a biographical chapter on Gaines' life, an overview of his fiction explores his work in light of his literary heritage and use of genre. Each of the following chapters examines an individual novel: Catherine Carmier (1964), Of Love and Dust (1967), The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1971), In My Father's House (1978), A Gathering of Old Men (1983), A Lesson Before Dying (1994), and a collection of short stories, Bloodline (1968). The discussion of each work includes sections on plot and character development, thematic issues, and an alternative critical approach from which to read the novel. Carmean shows how each of Gaines' novels focuses on themes of personal value and place and affirms the need for recognizing the value of the individual, regardless of race. This study will help readers to understand the compelling issue of human relationships raised by Gaines and to see why he is one of America's finest writers.


Author Notes

KAREN CARMEAN is Charles A. Dana Professor of English at Converse College. She is the author of Toni Morrison's World of Fiction (1993) and the coauthor of Robert Shaw: More Than a Life (1994). She has published widely on literature and film.


Reviews 1

Choice Review

Carmean's contribution to the "Critical Companions to Popular Contemporary Writers" series fulfills the broad goals of the series: to introduce best-selling writers to a wide range of readers. Synthesizing the available scholarship on Ernest Gaines into accessible prose, Carmean (Converse College) analyzes all six of his novels, from Catherine Carmier to A Lesson before Dying, and Bloodline, a collection of short stories. The opening chapters provide the broad outline of Gaines's life and work and locate him within his regional, aesthetic, and literary contexts. Each subsequent chapter looks at one of the works and ends with an alternative reading: a feminist reading of Catherine Carmier, a Marxist reading of A Gathering of Old Men, and so on. Sophisticated readers may find some of these readings narrow, even glib in their definitions of the theories, but these brief excursions have the merit of suggesting the breadth and complexity of Gaines's artistic concerns. A complete, up-to-date bibliography of Gaines's fiction and selected reviews and criticism complete the volume. Highly recommended as an introduction to Gaines's work for general readers and lower-division undergraduates. J. A. Miller; George Washington University


Table of Contents

Series Foreword
The Life ofErnest J. Gaines and Genres Catherine Carmier (1964)
Of Love and Dust (1967)
The Autobiography ofMiss Jane Pittman (1971)
In My Father's House (1978)
A Gathering of Old Men (1983)
A Lesson Before Dying (1994)
The Short Stories: Bloodline(1968)
Bibliography
Index