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Ernest J. Gaines (Ernest James Gaines) Biography

(1933– ), (Ernest James Gaines), The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, A Gathering of Old Men

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African-American novelist, born in Oscar, Louisiana, educated at San Francisco State College and Stanford University, California. Among other academic posts he was Professor of English at the University of Southwestern Louisiana, Lafayette. Gaines has been compared to William Faulkner in his focus on one small area of the American South, describing the people of southern Louisiana including those of African descent, Cajuns of French descent, and mixed-race Creoles. In his most celebrated novel, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1971), later made into a film, the recollections of a 110-year-old woman provide a highly personalized chronicle of the struggle for civil rights from the days of slavery to the emergence of Martin Luther King. A Gathering of Old Men (1983) is a study of lynchmob psychology which focuses on the murder of a white farmer, and the manner in which eighteen elderly black men confound the racist authorities by each insisting on his own guilt; a film version directed by Volker Schlondorff appeared in 1987. Other novels include Catherine Carmier (1964), Of Love and Dust (1967), and In My Father's House (1978). Bloodline (1968) is a collection of short stories.

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