Gaines, Ernest J(ames) 1933-
Gaines, Ernest J(ames) 1933-
GAINES, Ernest J(ames) 1933-
PERSONAL: Born January 15, 1933, in Oscar, LA; son of Manuel (a laborer) and Adrienne J. (Colar) Gaines; married Dianne Saulney (an attorney), 1993. Education: Attended Vallejo Junior College; San Francisco State College (now University), B.A., 1957; graduate study at Stanford University, 1958-59. Hobbies and other interests: Listening to music ("Bach to Coltrane"), watching television, reading, spending time in the gym.
ADDRESSES: Office—128 Buena Vista Blvd., Lafayette, LA, 70503-2059; and Department of English, University of Southwestern Louisiana, P.O. Box 44691, Lafayette, LA 70504-0001. Agent—JCA Literary Agency, Inc., 242 West 27th St., New York, NY 10001.
CAREER: Novelist. Denison University, Granville, OH, writer-in-residence, 1971; Stanford University, Stanford, CA, writer-in-residence, 1981; University of Southwestern Louisiana, Lafayette, professor of English and writer-in-residence, beginning 1983. Whittier College, visiting professor, 1983, writer-inresidence, 1986. Military service: U.S. Army, 1953-55.
AWARDS, HONORS: Wallace Stegner fellow, Stanford University, 1957; Joseph Henry Jackson Award, San Francisco Foundation, 1959, for "Comeback" (short story); National Endowment for the Arts award, 1967; Rockefeller grant, 1970; Guggenheim fellow, 1971; Black Academy of Arts and Letters award, 1972; fiction gold medal, Commonwealth Club of California, 1972, for The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, and 1984, for A Gathering of Old Men; Louisiana Library Association award, 1972; honorary doctorate of letters from Denison University, 1980, Brown University, 1985, Bard College, 1985, Whittier College, 1986, and Louisiana State University, 1987; award for excellence of achievement in literature, San Francisco Arts Commission, 1983; American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters literary award, 1987; MacArthur Foundation fellowship, 1993; National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, 1993, for A Lesson before Dying; made Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters (France), 1996; inducted into Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent, Chicago State University, 1998; Emmy Award for Best Television Movie, 1999, for adaptation of A Lesson before Dying; National Humanities Medal, National Endowment for the Humanities, 2000.
Catherine Carmier (novel), Atheneum (New York, NY), 1964.
Of Love and Dust (novel), Dial (New York, NY), 1967.
Bloodline (short stories; also see below), Dial (New York, NY), 1968, reprinted, Vintage Contemporaries (New York, NY), 1997.
A Long Day in November (originally published in Bloodline), Dial (New York, NY), 1971.
The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (novel), Dial (New York, NY), 1971.
In My Father's House (novel), Knopf (New York, NY), 1978.
A Gathering of Old Men (novel), Knopf (New York, NY), 1983.
A Lesson before Dying (novel), Knopf (New York, NY), 1993.
Conversations with Ernest Gaines, edited by John Lowe, University Press of Mississippi (Jackson, MS), 1995.
Gaines's works have been translated into other languages, including German and French.
ADAPTATIONS: The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, adapted from Gaines's novel, aired on the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS-TV), 1974, and won nine Emmy Awards. "The Sky Is Gray," a short story originally published in Bloodline, was adapted for public television in 1980. A Gathering of Old Men, adapted from Gaines's novel, aired on CBS-TV, 1987. In My Father's House was adapted for audiocassette. A Lesson before Dying was filmed for Home Box Office, 1999, and was adapted for the stage by Romulus Linney, 2001.
SIDELIGHTS: The fiction of Ernest J. Gaines, including his 1971 novel The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and his 1993 novel A Lesson before Dying, is deeply rooted in the African-American culture and storytelling traditions of rural Louisiana where the author was born and raised. His stories have been noted for their convincing characters and powerful themes presented within authentic, often folk-like, narratives that tap into the complex world of the rural South. Gaines depicts the strength and dignity of his black characters in the face of numerous struggles: the dehumanizing and destructive effects of racism; the breakdown in personal relationships as a result of social pressures; and the choice between secured traditions and the sometimes radical measures necessary to bring about social change. Although the issues presented in Gaines's fiction are serious and often disturbing, "this is not hot-and-breathless, burn-baby-burn writing," Melvin Maddocks pointed out in Time; rather, it is the work of "a patient artist, a patient man." Expounding on Gaines's rural heritage, Maddocks continued: Gaines "sets down a story as if he were planting, spreading the roots deep, wide and firm. His stories grow organically, at their own rhythm. When they ripen at last, they do so inevitably, arriving at a climax with the absolute rightness of a folk tale."
Gaines's experiences growing up on a Louisiana plantation provide the foundation upon which much of his fiction is based. Particularly important, he told Paul Desruisseaux in the New York Times Book Review, were "working in the fields, going fishing in the swamps with the older people, and, especially, listening to the people who came to my aunt's house, the aunt who raised me." Although Gaines moved to California at the age of fifteen and subsequently went to college there, his fiction has been based in an imaginary Louisiana plantation region called Bayonne, which a number of critics have compared to William Faulkner's fictional Yoknapatawpha County. Gaines has acknowledged looking to Faulkner, in addition to Ernest Hemingway, for language, and to such French writers as Gustave Flaubert and Guy de Maupassant for style. A perhaps greater influence, however, have been the writings of nineteenth-century Russian authors.
Gaines's first novel, Catherine Carmier, is "an apprentice work more interesting for what it anticipates than for its accomplishments," noted William E. Grant in the Dictionary of Literary Biography. The novel chronicles the story of a young black man, Jackson Bradley, who returns to Bayonne after completing his education in California. Jackson falls in love with Catherine, the daughter of a Creole sharecropper who refuses to let members of his family associate with anyone darker than he, believing Creoles to be racially and socially superior. The novel portrays numerous clashes of loyalty: Catherine is torn between her love for Jackson and for her father; Jackson is caught between a bond to the community he grew up in and the experience and knowledge he has gained in the outside world. "Both Catherine and Jackson are immobilized by the pressures of [the] rural community," noted Keith E. Byerman in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, which produces "twin themes of isolation and paralysis [that] give the novel an existential quality. Characters must face an unfriendly world without guidance and must make crucial choices about their lives." The characters in Catherine Carmier—as in much of Gaines's fiction—are faced with struggles that test the conviction of personal beliefs. Winifred L. Stoelting explained in the CLA Journal that Gaines is concerned more "with how [his characters] . . . handle their decisions than with the rightness of their decisions—more often than not predetermined by social changes over which the single individual has little control."
Gaines sets Catherine Carmier in the time of the U.S. civil rights movement, yet avoids making it a primary force in the novel. "In divorcing his tale from contemporary events," Grant commented, "Gaines declares his independence from the political and social purposes of much contemporary black writing. Instead, he elects to concentrate upon those fundamental human passions and conflicts which transcend the merely social level of human existence." Grant found Gaines "admirable" for doing this, yet also believed Jackson's credibility is marred because he remains aloof from contemporary events. For Grant, the novel "seems to float outside time and place rather than being solidly anchored in the real world of the modern South." Byerman held a similar view, stating that the novel "is not entirely successful in presenting its major characters and their motivations." Nonetheless, he pointed out that in Catherine Carmier, "Gaines does begin to create a sense of the black community and its perceptions of the world around it. Shared ways of speaking, thinking, and relating to the dominant white society are shown through a number of minor characters."
Gaines's next novel, Of Love and Dust, is also a story of forbidden romance, and, as in Catherine Carmier, a "new world of expanding human relationships erodes the old world of love for the land and the acceptance of social and economic stratification," wrote Stoelting. Of Love and Dust is the story of Marcus Payne, a young black man bonded out of prison by a white landowner and placed under the supervision of a Cajun overseer, Sidney Bonbon. Possessed of a rebellious and hostile nature, Marcus is a threat to Bonbon, who in turn does all that he can to break the young man's spirit. In an effort to strike back, Marcus pays special attention to the overseer's wife; the two fall in love and plot to run away. The novel ends with a violent confrontation between the two men in which Marcus is killed. After the killing, Bonbon claims that to spare Marcus would have meant his own death at the hands of other Cajuns. Grant noted a similarity between Of Love and Dust and Catherine Carmier in that the characters are "caught up in a decadent social and economic system that determines their every action and limits their possibilities." Similarly, the two novels are marked by a "social determinism [that] shapes the lives of all the characters, making them pawns in a mechanistic world order rather than free agents."
Of Love and Dust demonstrates Gaines's development as a novelist, offering a clearer view of the themes and characters that have come to dominate his work. Stoelting noted that "in a more contemporary setting, the novel . . . continues Gaines's search for human dignity, and when that is lacking, acknowledges the salvation of pride," adding that "the characters themselves grow into a deeper awareness than those of [his] first novel. More sharply drawn . . . [they] are more decisive in their actions." Byerman remarked that the novel "more clearly condemns the economic, social, and racial system of the South for the problems faced by its characters." Likewise, the first-person narrator in the novel—a coworker of Marcus—"both speaks in the idiom of the place and time and instinctively asserts the values of the black community."
Gaines turns to a first-person narrator again in his next novel, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, which many consider to be his masterwork. Miss Jane Pittman—well over 100 years old—relates a personal history that spans the time from the U.S. Civil War and slavery up through the civil rights movement of the 1960s. "To travel with Miss Pittman from adolescence to old age is to embark upon a historic journey, one staked out in the format of the novel," wrote Addison Gayle, Jr. in The Way of the World: The Black Novel in America. "Never mind that Miss Jane Pittman is fictitious, and that her 'autobiography,' offered up in the form of taped reminiscences, is artifice," added Josh Greenfield in Life, "the effect is stunning." Gaines's gift for drawing convincing characters is clearly demonstrated in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. "His is not . . . an 'art' narrative, but an authentic narrative by an authentic ex-slave, authentic even though both are Gaines's inventions," Bryant commented. "So successful is he in becoming Miss Jane Pittman, that when we talk about her story, we do not think of Gaines as her creator, but as her recording editor."
The character of Jane Pittman could be called an embodiment of the black experience in America. "Though Jane is the dominant personality of the narrative—observer and commentator upon history, as well as participant—in her odyssey is symbolized the odyssey of a race of people; through her eyes is revealed the grandeur of a people's journey through history," maintained Gayle. "The central metaphor of the novel concerns this journey: Jane and her people, as they come together in the historic march toward dignity and freedom in Sampson, symbolize a people's march through history, breaking old patterns, though sometimes slowly, as they do." The important historical backdrop to Jane's narrative—slavery, Reconstruction, the civil rights era, segregation—does not compromise, however, the detailed account of an individual. "Jane captures the experiences of those millions of illiterate blacks who never had a chance to tell their own stories," Byerman explained. "By focusing on the particular yet typical events of a small part of Louisiana, those lives are given a concreteness and specificity not possible in more general histories."
In his fourth novel, In My Father's House, Gaines focuses on a theme that appears in varying degrees throughout his fiction: the alienation between fathers and sons. As the author told Desruisseaux, "In my books there always seems to be fathers and sons searching for each other. That's a theme I've worked with since I started writing. Even when the father was not in the story, I've dealt with his absence and its effects on his children. And that is the theme of this book." In My Father's House tells of prominent civil rights leader Reverend Phillip Martin, who, at the peak of his career, is confronted with a troubled young man named Robert X. Although Robert's identity is initially a mystery, eventually he is revealed to be one of three offspring from a love affair Martin had in an earlier, wilder life and then abandoned. Robert arrives to confront and kill the father whose neglect he sees as responsible for the family's disintegration: his sister has been raped, his brother imprisoned for the murder of her attacker, and his mother alone and reduced to poverty. Although the son's intent to kill his father is never carried out, Martin is forced "to undergo a long and painful odyssey through his own past and the labyrinthine streets of Baton Rouge to learn what really happened to his first family," wrote William Burke in the Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook. Larry McMurtry, in the New York Times Book Review, noted that as the book traces the lost family, "we have revealed to us an individual, a marriage, a community and a region, but with such an unobtrusive marshaling of detail that we never lose sight of the book's central thematic concern: the profoundly destructive consequences of the breakdown of parentage, of a father's abandonment of his children and the terrible and irrevocable consequences of such an abandonment."
A Gathering of Old Men, Gaines's fifth novel, presents a cast of aging Southern black men who, after a life of subordination and intimidation, make a defiant stand against injustice. Seventeen of them, together with the thirty-year-old white heiress of a deteriorating Louisiana plantation, plead guilty to murdering Beau Boutan, a member of a violent Cajun clan. While a confounded sheriff and vengeful family wait to lynch the black they've decided is guilty, the group members—toting recently fired shotguns—surround the dead man and "confess" their motives. "Each man tells of the accumulated frustrations of his life—raped daughters, jailed sons, public insults, economic exploitation—that serve as sufficient motive for murder," wrote Byerman. "Though Beau Boutan is seldom the immediate cause of their anger, he clearly represents the entire white world that has deprived them of their dignity and manhood. The confessions serve as ritual purgings of all the hostility and self-hatred built up over the years." Over a dozen characters—white, black, and Cajun—advance the story through individual narrations, creating "thereby a range of social values as well as different perspectives on the action," Byerman noted. New York Times BookReview contributor Reynolds Price noted that the black narrators "are nicely distinguished from one another in rhythm and idiom, in the nature of what they see and report, especially in their specific laments for past passivity in the face of suffering." The accumulated effect, observed Elaine Kendall in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, is that the "individual stories coalesce into a single powerful tale of subjugation, exploitation and humiliation at the hands of landowners."
Another theme of A Gathering of Old Men, according to America's Ben Forkner, is "the simple, natural dispossession of old age, of the traditional and well-loved values of the past, the old trades and the old manners, forced to give way to modern times." Sam Cornish commented in the Christian Science Monitor that the novel's "characters—both black and white—understand that, before the close of the novel, the new South must confront the old, and all will be irrevocably changed. Gaines portrays a society that will be altered by the deaths of its 'old men,' and so presents an allegory about the passing of the old and birth of the new."
A Lesson before Dying, issued ten years after A Gathering of Old Men, continues the author's historical reflections on the South. The setting is a characteristic one: a plantation and jail in Bayonne during a six-month span in 1948. The unlikely hero is Jefferson, a scarcely literate, twenty-one-year-old man-child who works the cane fields of the Pichot plantation. Trouble finds the protagonist when he innocently hooks up with two men; they then rob a liquor store and are killed in the process along with the shop's proprietor, leaving Jefferson as an accomplice. The young man's naivete in the crime is never recognized as he is brought to trial before a jury of twelve white men and sentenced to death. Jefferson's defense attorney ineffectively attempts to save his client by presenting him as a dumb animal, as "a thing that acts on command. A thing to hold the handle of a plow, a thing to load your bales of cotton." When Jefferson's godmother learns of this analogy, she determines that her nephew will face his execution as a man, not as an animal. Thus, she enlists the help of young teacher Grant Wiggins, who is initially resistant but works to help Jefferson to resolutely shoulder his fate in his final days.
According to Sandra D. Davis in the Detroit Free Press, "A Lesson before Dying begins much like many other stories where racial tension brews in the background." Yet, as in Gaines's other works, the racial tension in this novel is more of a catalyst for his tribute to the perseverance of the victims of injustice. Unexpectedly, pride, honor, and manhood in a dehumanizing environment emerge as the themes of this novel. Through Wiggins, the young narrator and unwilling carrier of the "burden" of the community, and his interaction with the black community, as represented by Jefferson's godmother and the town's Reverend Ambrose, Gaines "creates a compelling, intense story about heroes and the human spirit," contended Davis. Ironically, Jefferson and Reverend Ambrose ultimately emerge as the real teachers, showing Wiggins that, as Davis asserted, "education encompasses more than the lessons taught in school." Wiggins is also forced to admit, according to Jonathan Yardley in the Washington Post Book World, "his own complicity in the system of which Jefferson is a victim." Commonweal critic Madeline Marget likened Jefferson's ordeal to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ: "A Lesson before Dying is Gaines's retelling of the Passion—a layered and sensual story of a suffering man and his life-changing struggle," one that Gaines explores "through a narrative of tremendous velocity."
Of that community which yields the lessons of Gaines's fiction and his relation to it, Alice Walker wrote in the New York Times Book Review: Gaines "claims and revels in the rich heritage of Southern Black people and their customs; the community he feels with them is unmistakable and goes deeper even than pride . . . Gaines is mellow with historical reflection, supple with wit, relaxed and expansive because he does not equate his people with failure." The novelist has been criticized by some, however, who feel his writing does not more directly focus on problems facing blacks. Gaines responded to Desruisseaux that he feels "too many blacks have been writing to tell whites all about 'the problems,' instead of writing something that all people, including their own, could find interesting, could enjoy." Gaines has also remarked that more can be achieved than strictly writing novels of protest. In an interview for San Francisco, the author stated: "So many of our writers have not read any farther back than [Richard Wright's] Native Son. So many of our novels deal only with the great city ghettos; that's all we write about, as if there's nothing else." Gaines continued: "We've only been living in these ghettos for 75 years or so, but the other 300 years—I think this is worth writing about."
In Conversations with Ernest Gaines, the author reveals to editor John Lowe some of the factors behind his popularity and critical acclaim. "While a notable consistency in themes and setting is evident within the body of his writing," stated critic Valerie Babb, writing about Conversations with Ernest Gaines in the African American Review, "in novel ways this talented writer consistently re-envisions and reworks the material that inspires him. . . . The best commentary is Gaines's own . . . as he assesses his art." "Critiques of racial essentialism are many," Babb concluded, "and there is increased scholarly emphasis on finding voice and telling story, two elements that imbue Gaines's works with their own unique pyrotechnics. With greater appreciation of how small details make great fiction, it seems our critical age is indeed ready to appreciate the fiction of Ernest Gaines."
Gaines's output has been slow but steady, and his focus remains restricted to Louisiana's past. "I can write only about the past," he explained to Jerome Weeks of the Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service. "I let it sink into me for a long time, let it stay there. I can't write about something that happened last week." Although his works number less than a dozen, their influence has been widespread. His novels have become part of the mainstay of high school and college literature courses because his characters struggle to define themselves within themselves, their communities, society, and humanity. "We must all try to define ourselves. It's a human struggle," he told Weeks.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Babb, Valerie-Melissa, Ernest Gaines, Twayne (Boston, MA), 1991.
Bruck, Peter, editor, The Black American Short Story in the Twentieth Century: A Collection of Critical Essays, B. R. Gruner (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1977.
Carmean, Karen, Ernest J. Gaines: A Critical Companion, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1998.
Children's Literature Review, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 62, 2002.
Concise Dictionary of American Literary Biography: Broadening Views, 1968-1988, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1989.
Contemporary Literary Criticism, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 3, 1975, Volume 11, 1979, Volume 18, 1981.
Conversations with Ernest Gaines, University Press of Mississippi (Jackson, MS), 1995.
Dictionary of Literary Biography, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 2: American Novelists since World War II, 1978, Volume 33: Afro-American Fiction Writers after 1955, 1984.
Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook: 1980, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1981.
Estes, David C., Critical Reflections on the Fiction of Ernest J. Gaines, University of Georgia Press (Athens, GA), 1994.
Gaudet, Marcia, and Carl Wooton, Porch Talk with Ernest Gaines: Conversations on the Writer's Craft, Louisiana State University Press (Lafayette, LA), 1990.
Gayle, Addison, Jr., The Way of the New World: The Black Novel in America, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1975.
Hicks, Jack, In the Singer's Temple: Prose Fictions of Barthelme, Gaines, Brautigan, Piercy, Kesey, and Kosinski, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC), 1981.
Hudson, Theodore R., The History of Southern Literature, Louisiana State University Press (Lafayette, LA), 1985.
Lowe, John, editor, Conversations with Ernest Gaines, University Press of Mississippi (Jackson, MS), 1995.
O'Brien, John, editor, Interview with Black Writers, Liveright (New York, NY), 1973.
African American Review, fall, 1994, p. 489; February, 1998, p. 350.
America, June 2, 1984.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 26, 1997; July 28, 2002, Teresa K. Weaver, "National Black Arts Festival: The Importance of Reading Ernest (Gaines)," p. L1.
Black American Literature Forum, Volume 11, 1977; Volume 24, 1990.
Black Issues Book Review, May, 2002, review of In My Father's House (audio version), p. 26.
Booklist, June 1, 1999, review of A Lesson before Dying, p. 1796; November 15, 2001, review of Catherine Carmier, p. 555.
Callaloo, Volume 7, 1984; Volume 11, 1988; winter, 1999, Keith Clark, "Re-(w)righting Black Male Subjectivity: The Communal Poetics of Ernest Gaines's A Gathering of Old Men," p. 195; winter, 2001, review of A Lesson before Dying, p. 346.
Chicago Tribune Book World, October 30, 1983.
Christian Science Monitor, December 2, 1983.
Chronicle of Higher Education, May 11, 1994, p. A23.
CLA Journal, March, 1971; December, 1975.
Commonweal, June 16, 2000, Madeline Marget, review of A Lesson before Dying, p. 23.
Detroit Free Press, June 6, 1993, p. 7J.
Essence, August, 1993, p. 52.
Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), June 12, 1999, review of A Lesson before Dying, p. D4.
Guardian (London, England), March 18, 2000, Nick Hasted, "Nick Hasted Ghosthunts with Ernest Gaines in Altered Southern States," p. 11.
Iowa Review, winter, 1972.
Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, February 28, 2001, Jerome Weeks, "Author Ernest J. Gaines Mines His Rich Southern Past," p. K882.
Library Journal, May 15, 2001, Nancy Pearl, review of A Lesson before Dying, p. 192.
Life, April 30, 1971.
Los Angeles Times, March 2, 1983.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, January 1, 1984.
MELUS, Volume 11, 1984; spring, 1999, Wolfgang Lepschy, "Ernest J. Gaines" (interview), p. 197.
Mississippi Quarterly, spring, 1999, Jeffrey J. Folks, "Communal Responsibility in Ernest J. Gaines's A Lesson before Dying," p. 259.
Nation, February 5, 1968; April 5, 1971; January 14, 1984.
Negro Digest, November, 1967; January, 1968; January, 1969.
New Orleans Review, Volume 1, 1969; Volume 3, 1972; Volume 14, 1987.
New Republic, December 26, 1983.
New Statesman, September 2, 1973; February 10, 1984; May 29, 2000, Nicola Upson, review of A Gathering of Old Men, p. 57.
Newsweek, June 16, 1969; May 3, 1971.
New Yorker, October 24, 1983.
New York Times, July 20, 1978.
New York Times Book Review, November 19, 1967; May 23, 1971; June 11, 1978; October 30, 1983; May 22, 1999, Ron Wertheimer, review of A Lesson before Dying, p. B15; September 19, 2000, Bruce Weber, "Last-Minute Lessons for a Condemned Prisoner in the Jim Crow South," p. E1.
Observer (London, England), February 5, 1984.
Publishers Weekly, March 21, 1994, p. 8.
San Francisco, July, 1974.
Sojourners, September-October, 2002, Dale Brown, "A Lesson for Living," pp. 30-33.
Southern Review, Volume 10, 1974; Volume 21, 1985.
Studies in Short Fiction, summer, 1975.
Studies in the Humanities, June-December, 2001, Lorna Fitzsimmons, "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman: Film, Intertext, and Ideology," pp. 94-109.
Time, May 10, 1971; December 27, 1971.
Times (London, England), March 18, 2000, Paul Connolly, review of A Gathering of Old Men, p. 21.
Times Literary Supplement, February 10, 1966; March 16, 1973; April 6, 1984.
Voice Literary Supplement, October, 1983.
Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2000, Amy Gamerman, review of A Lesson before Dying, p. A24.
Washington Post, January 13, 1976; May 22, 1999, Ken Ringle, review of A Lesson before Dying, p. C01.
Washington Post Book World, June 18, 1978; September 21, 1983; March 28, 1993, p. 3; May 23, 1993.
Writer, May, 1999, p. 4.
NewOrleans,http://www.neworleans.com/lalife/ (summer, 1997), Faith Dawson, "A Louisiana Life: Ernest J. Gaines."
Louisiana Stories: Ernest Gaines (television film), WHMM-TV, 1993.*