I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
Maya Angelou’s seven volumes of autobiography, in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, are a testament to the talents and resilience of this extraordinary writer. Loving the world, she also knows its cruelty. As a Black woman she has known discrimination and extreme poverty, but also hope, joy, achievement and celebration. In this first volume of her six books of autobiography, Maya Angelou beautifully evokes her childhood with her grandmother in the American south of the 1930s. She learns the power of the white folks at the other end of town and suffers the terrible trauma of rape by her mother’s lover.
‘I write about being a Black American woman, however, I am always talking about what it’s like to be a human being. This is how we are, what makes us laugh, and this is how we fall and how we somehow, amazingly, stand up again’ Maya Angelou.
With the continued expansion of the literary canon, multicultural works of modern literary fiction and autobiography have assumed an increasing importance for students and scholars of American literature. This exciting new series assembles key documents and criticism concerning these works that have so recently become central components of the American literature curriculum. Each casebook will reprint documents relating to the work’s historical context and reception, present the best in critical essays, and when possible, feature an interview of the author. The series will provide, for the first time, an accessible forum in which readers can come to a fuller understanding of these contemporary masterpieces and the unique aspects of American ethnic, racial, or cultural experience that they so ably portray.
Perhaps more than any other single text, Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings helped to establish the “mainstream” status of the renaissance in black women’s writing. This casebook presents a variety of critical approaches to this classic autobiography, along with an exclusive interview with Angelou conducted specially for this volume and a unique drawing of her childhood surroundings in Stamps, Arkansas, drawn by Angelou herself.