The Norton Book of American Autobiography share button
Jay Parini
Format Hardcover
Dimensions 6.00 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.60 (d)
Pages 711
Publisher Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication Date March 1999
ISBN 9780393046779
Book ISBN 10 039304677X
About Book
From Mary Rowlandson's story of her capture by Indians in the mid-seventeenth century to Mary Paik Lee's story of being a pioneer Korean woman in America at the beginning of the twentieth century, the autobiographical form has provided our most vivid, intimate glimpses of daily American life and self-understanding.

In this groundbreaking anthology, respected writer and critic Jay Parini brings together an abundant selection from over three centuries of "the democratic voice . . . discovering itself." Here are the voices of the Founding Fathers and African American slaves; of transcendentalists and suffragists; of ancestors such as Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, Mark Twain, Henry James, Helen Keller, Zora Neale Hurston, Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, James Baldwin, and many others; and of a wide range of contemporaries, including Maxine Hong Kingston, Gore Vidal, Julia Alvarez, and Mark Doty.

The rich, continuous influence of autobiographical writing in our culture is clear, and as memoirs continue to fascinate readers, this invaluable anthology provides an essential guide to our foremost American literary tradition.


Library Journal

Norton anthologies, well respected and widely used in classrooms and libraries, cover a variety of literary forms--poetry, essays, interviews, and short stories. For Norton's most recent addition, poet and novelist Parini has compiled over 60 selections from autobiographies and memoirs published since the 17th century. His original manuscript was three times its present size, simply because there was so much to choose from in "a tradition quintessentially American in its forms and performance." The final result includes works by such diverse writers as Henry David Thoreau, U.S. Grant, Gertrude Stein, Malcom X, Mary McCarthy, and Richard Rodriguez. Among other topics, these excerpts discuss childhood, immigration, spiritual enlightenment, and racial, social, and ethnic issues. The selections are arranged chronologically, and each is prefaced by an introduction on its author and its merit. This well-rounded and enjoyable collection is recommended for both academic and public libraries.--Ilse Heidmann, San Marcos, TX