"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" is personally signed by the acclaimed novelist and poet Maya Angelou directly onto a special title page. Leather bound matching collector's set. Includes the original collector's noted by the publisher. Each edition is As New, sealed without any flaws.
Over the past four decades, Maya Angelou has established herself as one of the greatest poets and authors of our time with twelve New York Times Best Seller, a Pulitzer Prize nomination, and numerous other awards to her credit. Now you can own Maya Angelou's critically lauded memoirs in one magnificent leather-bound collection.
All of the award-winning memoirs are included in this collection:
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Signed Collector's Edition), personally signed by Maya Angelou. [Sealed]
- All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes [Sealed]
- The Heart of a Woman [Sealed]
- A Song Flung Up to Heaven [Sealed]
- Gather Together in My Name [Sealed]
- Singin' & Swingin' & Gettin' Merry Like Christmas [Sealed]
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a 1969 autobiography describing the early years of American writer and poet Maya Angelou. The first in a seven-volume series, it is a coming-of-age story that illustrates how strength of character and a love of literature can help overcome racism and trauma. The book begins when three-year-old Maya and her older brother are sent to Stamps, Arkansas, to live with their grandmother and ends when Maya becomes a mother at the age of 16. In the course of Caged Bird, Maya transforms from a victim of racism with an inferiority complex into a self-possessed, dignified young woman capable of responding to prejudice.
Angelou was challenged by her friend, author James Baldwin, and her editor, Robert Loomis, to write an autobiography that was also a piece of literature. Reviewers often categorize Caged Bird as autobiographical fiction because Angelou uses thematic development and other techniques common to fiction, but the prevailing critical view characterizes it as an autobiography, a genre she attempts to critique, change, and expand. The book covers topics common to autobiographies written by black American women in the years following the Civil Rights Movement: a celebration of black motherhood; a critique of racism; the importance of family; and the quest for independence, personal dignity, and self-definition.
Angelou uses her autobiography to explore subjects such as identity, rape, racism, and literacy. She also writes in new ways about women's lives in a male-dominated society. Maya, the younger version of Angelou and the book's central character, has been called "a symbolic character for every black girl growing up in America". Angelou's description of being raped as an eight-year-old child overwhelms the book, although it is presented briefly in the text. Another metaphor, that of a bird struggling to escape its cage, is a central image throughout the work, which consists of "a sequence of lessons about resisting racist oppression". Angelou's treatment of racism provides a thematic unity to the book. Literacy and the power of words help young Maya cope with her bewildering world; books become her refuge as she works through her trauma.
Caged Bird was nominated for a National Book Award in 1970 and remained on The New York Times paperback bestseller list for two years. It has been used in educational settings from high schools to universities, and the book has been celebrated for creating new literary avenues for the American memoir. However, the book's graphic depiction of childhood rape, racism, and sexuality has caused it to be challenged or banned in some schools and libraries.
All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes
All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes, published in 1986, is the fifth book in African-American writer and poet Maya Angelou's seven-volume autobiography series. Set between 1962 and 1965, the book begins when Angelou is 33 years old, and recounts the years she lived in Accra, Ghana. The book, deriving its title from a Negro spiritual, begins where Angelou's previous memoir, The Heart of a Woman, ends — with the traumatic car accident involving her son Guy — and closes with Angelou returning to America.
As she had started to do in her first autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and continued throughout her series, Angelou upholds the long tradition of African-American autobiography. At the same time she makes a deliberate attempt to challenge the usual structure of the autobiography by critiquing, changing, and expanding the genre. Angelou had matured as a writer by the time she wrote Traveling Shoes, to the point that she was able to play with the form and structure of the work. As in her previous books, it consists of a series of anecdotes connected by theme. She depicts her struggle with being the mother of a grown son, and with her place in her new home.
Angelou examines many of the same subjects and themes that her previous autobiographies covered. Although motherhood is an important theme in this book, it does not overwhelm the text as it does in some of her other works. At the end of the book, she ties up the mother/son plot when she leaves her son in Ghana and returns to America. According to scholar Mary Jane Lupton, "Angelou's exploration of her African and African-American identities" is an important theme in Traveling Shoes. By the end of the book, Angelou comes to term with what scholar Dolly McPherson calls her "double-consciousness", the parallels and connections between the African and American parts of her history and character. Racism continues to be an important theme as she learns more about it and about herself. Journey and a sense of home is another important theme in this book; Angelou upholds the African-American tradition of the slave narrative and of her own series of autobiographies. This time she focuses on "trying to get home", or on becoming assimilated in African culture, which she finds unattainable.
All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes received a mixed reception from critics, but most of their reviews were positive.
The Heart of a Woman
The Heart of a Woman (1981) is an autobiography by American writer Maya Angelou. The book is the fourth installment in Angelou's series of seven autobiographies. The Heart of a Woman recounts events in Angelou's life between 1957 and 1962 and follows her travels to California, New York City, Cairo, and Ghana as she raises her teenage son, becomes a published author, becomes active in the civil rights movement, and becomes romantically involved with a South African anti-apartheid fighter. One of the most important themes of The Heart of a Woman is motherhood, as Angelou continues to raise her son. The book ends with her son leaving for college and Angelou looking forward to newfound independence and freedom.
Like Angelou's previous volumes, the book has been described as autobiographical fiction, though most critics, as well as Angelou, have characterized it as autobiography. Although most critics consider Angelou's first autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings more favorably, The Heart of a Woman has received positive reviews. It was chosen as an Oprah's Book Club selection in 1997.
Critic Mary Jane Lupton says it has "a narrative structure unsurpassed in American autobiography" and that it is Angelou's "most introspective" autobiography. The title is taken from a poem by Harlem Renaissance poet Georgia Douglas Johnson, which connects Angelou with other female African-American writers. African-American literature critic Lyman B. Hagen states, "Faithful to the ongoing themes of survival, sense of self, and continuing education, The Heart of a Woman moves its central figures to a point of full personhood". The book follows Angelou to several places in the US and Africa, but the most important journey she describes is "a voyage into the self."
A Song Flung Up to Heaven
A Song Flung Up to Heaven is the sixth book in author Maya Angelou's series of autobiographies. Set between 1965 and 1968, it begins where Angelou's previous book All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes ends, with Angelou's trip from Accra, Ghana, where she had lived for the past four years, back to the United States. Two "calamitous events" frame the beginning and end of the book—the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. Angelou describes how she dealt with these events and the sweeping changes in both the country and in her personal life, and how she coped with her return home to the U.S. The book ends with Angelou at "the threshold of her literary career", writing the opening lines to her first autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
As she had begun to do in Caged Bird, and continued throughout her series, Angelou upheld the long tradition of African-American autobiography. At the same time she made a deliberate attempt to challenge the usual structure of the autobiography by critiquing, changing, and expanding the genre. Most reviewers agreed that the book was made up of a series of vignettes. By the time Song was written in 2002, sixteen years after her previous autobiography, Angelou had experienced great fame and recognition as an author and poet. She recited her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton in 1993, becoming the first poet to make an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost at John F. Kennedy's in 1961. She had become recognized and highly respected as a spokesperson for Blacks and women. Angelou was, as scholar Joanne Braxton has stated, "without a doubt, ... America's most visible black woman autobiographer". She had also become, as reviewer Richard Long stated, "a major autobiographical voice of the time".
The title of Song was based upon the same poem, by African-American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, the basis of her first autobiography. Like Angelou's other autobiographies, the book was greeted with both praise and disappointment, although reviews were generally positive. Reviewers praised Angelou for "the culmination of a unique autobiographical achievement", while others criticized her for coming across as "smug". The 2002 spoken word album by the same name, based on the book, received a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album in 2003.
Gather Together in My Name
Gather Together in My Name (1974) is a memoir by American writer and poet Maya Angelou. It is the second book in Angelou's series of seven autobiographies. The book begins immediately following the events described in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and follows Angelou, called Rita, from the ages of 17 to 19. Written three years after Caged Bird, the book "depicts a single mother's slide down the social ladder into poverty and crime." The title of the book is taken from the Bible, but it also conveys how one black female lived in the white-dominated society of the U.S. following the Second World War.
Angelou expands upon many themes that she started discussing in her first autobiography, including motherhood and family, racism, identity, education and literacy. Rita becomes closer to her mother in this book, and goes through a variety of jobs and relationships as she tries to provide for her young son and find her place in the world. Angelou continues to discuss racism in Gather Together, but moves from speaking for all Black women to describing how one young woman dealt with it. The book exhibits the narcissism of young people, but describes how Rita discovers her identity. Like many of Angelou's autobiographies, Gather Together is concerned with Angelou's on-going self-education.
Gather Together was not as critically acclaimed as Angelou's first autobiography, but received mostly positive reviews and was recognized as being better written than its predecessor. The book's structure, consisting of a series of episodes tied together by theme and content, parallels the chaos of adolescence, which some critics feel makes it an unsatisfactory sequel to Caged Bird. Rita's many physical movements throughout the book, which affects the book's organization and quality, has caused at least one critic to call it a travel narrative.
Singin' & Swingin' & Gettin' Merry Like Christmas
Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry like Christmas is the third book of Maya Angelou's seven-volume autobiography series. Set between 1949 and 1955, the book spans Angelou's early twenties. In this volume, Angelou describes her struggles to support her young son, form meaningful relationships, and forge a successful career in the entertainment world. The work's 1976 publication was the first time an African-American woman had expanded her life story into a third volume. Scholar Dolly McPherson calls the book "a graphic portrait of the adult self in bloom", while critic Lyman B. Hagen calls it "a journey of discovery and rebirth".
In Singin' and Swingin', Angelou examines many of the same subjects and themes in her previous autobiographies including travel, music, race, conflict, and motherhood. Angelou depicts the conflict she felt as a single mother, despite her success as a performer as she travels Europe with the musical Porgy and Bess. Her depictions of her travels, which take up 40 percent of the book, have roots in the African-American slave narrative. Angelou uses music and musical concepts throughout Singin' and Swingin'; McPherson calls it Angelou's "praisesong" to Porgy and Bess. Angelou's stereotypes about race and race relations are challenged as she interacts more with people of different races. During the course of this narrative, she changes her name from Marguerite Johnson to Maya Angelou for professional reasons. Her young son changes his name as well, from Clyde to Guy, and their relationship is strengthened as the book ends.
Each book includes all the classic Easton Press qualities:
* Silk Moire Endleaves
* Distinctive Cover Design
* Hubbed Spine, Accented in Real 22KT Gold
* Satin Ribbon Page Marker
* Gilded Page Edges
* Long-lasting, High Quality Acid-neutral Paper
* Smyth-sewn Pages for Strength and Durability
* Beautiful Illustrations
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