• The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman

  • By: Ernest J. Gaines
  • Narrated by: Tonya Jordan
  • Length: 8 hrs and 11 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (422 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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 1960s. 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.
©1971 Bantam Books (P)1996 by Blackstone Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"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 of it all." (Newsweek)

What listeners say about The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

At great listen

This was such a lovely account of a time we no longer want to think of as part of america. The story tells a sad story with a main charater that has such a positive attitude we could all learn from.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting But Ordinary

The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman is a post-civil war fictionalized autobiography. It follows the life of 110 year old Jane Pittman as she narrates the experience of being a former slave after  the civil war ends until the civil right area. When first published in the 1970s The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman might have a fresh look into the lives for the formerly enslaved and their fight for equality. Unfortunately, the book does not stand the test of time and Miss Jane Pittman's story seems common to those with knowledge of Black History after the Civil War. It doesn't help the narrative that Miss Pittman herself is somewhat a reluctant narrative and doesn't feel that her story is special. Jane Pittman gives readers brief glimpses into events that she felt were important in her life and shaped who she was, and as noted before these events were rather common. The only unique factor of Gaines’ fictionalized autobiography is the location of Louisiana. It was interesting to notice the differences and similarities in the life experience of the formerly enslaved and there descents in Louisiana when compared to other parts of the South.  But over The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman is a victim of time and by modern but standards is underwhelming and offers very few new revelations.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Why did I wait so long?

I cannot believe I waited until I was 52 to read this (ok, listen to) this book. I was captivated from the very beginning. I’m just sorry it isn’t a true story. Miss Jane Pittman is an interesting character that “lived” through incredible times. Many of the things she discusses in her “autobiography” sound as though they are steeped in truth (the “high water of 27” for example and the Frenchman that built the first levees). I would love to learn more about the area and the period. However, if Miss Jane and her posse aren’t there in the history books, it just wouldn’t be as much fun learning that history. I wouldn’t have a vested interest. I wouldn’t be as interested in learning about the general history of an area or era as I would be in following the history of a particular family of individual through time.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A classic

I remember when this first came out. I believe the movie came out first with Cecily Tyson. She was wonderful as were her makeup artists aging her from a young woman 110 year old.

It was a made for TV movie that one of my Junior High teachers illegally taped because he thought it was so important to show us.

I was extremely glad he did. I am also glad I reread it nearly five decades later. It still has a lot to say about our society.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Needs an editor!

I wish I could have seen this play with Cicely Tyson in the 60's. I'm sure it was edited time-wise and very powerful. It's still a good story, and may be a true story, but the unabridged version sort of rambles, and is a few hours too long.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Strength and Resilience

A life lived in the thick of some of the worst racism and violence against Blacks.
The story of a resilient woman who saw way too much and experienced such tragedy, yet remained strong enough to tell it in her own words.
A true storyteller!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Totally enjoyable

The whole book was enjoyable and the audible was just as awesome. Really great book for young people. I love listening to the history, how life really was. So thankful life isn’t so messed up…even so, there’s still room for change. I will read or listen again….after I have time to digest this book. Thanks for this lovely story.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Mildly disappointed

The story started out very scattered and I hoped it would get better toward the end, but it didn't. not sure if it was due to the way the narrator read it or not. The ending was very abrupt. I'm going to try and watch the movie in hopes of finding some redemption for the audio book.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Meh

It was kind of boring and all over the place. In the first chapter it says that she told the story and some parts didn’t have an ending etc. That definitely showed. I didn’t care for it. And for Jane Pittman to be a fictional character the story could have been better.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Missing Star Has Nothing To Do With Story

Narrator and book were great. There was an issue where the chapter for Book 3 ended before the section did. I also think it would've been advantageous to the listener to have each book broken up into chapter sections to listen to instead of around 2 hour chunks. This is purely my personal preference. I don't think this was a wrong move on production.