A Critical CompanionBook - 1998
Maya Angelou's five-volume autobiography transcends the autobiographical tradition, enriching it with contemporary experience, African American vision, and female sensibility. With these five books, Angelou has created a work of epic scope that covers a quarter century of American and African American history, from the beginning of World War II to the civil rights movement. These volumes stretch over time and place, from Arkansas to Africa, as Angelou grows from a confused child in a Southern town to an accomplished adult. Throughout her life journey depicted in the autobiographies, Angelou grapples with the issues of motherhood and race and reveals the struggles of being a black mother in America, extending her perspective in the fourth and fifth volumes to encompass an African setting.
A biographical chapter is enriched by an exclusive interview granted by Angelou, and a chapter on genre discusses Angelou's work in the context of the tradition of American and African American autobiography. A chapter is devoted to each of the five volumes of her serial autobiography--"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings"(1970), "Gather Together in My Name" (1974), "Singin' and Swingin'" and "Gettin' Merry Like Christmas"(1976), "The Heart of a Woman" (1981), and " All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes"(1986). The discussion of each novel features sections on narrative point of view, plot development, character development, thematic issues, style and literary devices, and an alternate critical approach from which to read the work. A complete bibliography of Angelou's work, plus a list of reviews of each work and selected secondary critical and biographical sources, complete the work. This companion is ideal for students, teachers, and others interested in Maya Angelou, the African American experience, and the craft of autobiography.