The FYS 101 Common Text for 2005 is A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines. There are many resources available on the web which can benefit your understanding of this novel. The sites below can assist your class discussions and analysis of the text. If you use any of these sources when writing your paper, be sure to give appropriate credit to the source using the guidelines found in The Columbia Guide to Online Style. Note that the sites below will open in a new page; merely close it to return to this page.
Web Resources for A Lesson Before Dying
Website for the novel developed by Vintage Books, the publisher of our edition. Features biographical information on Ernest J. Gaines and audio of the author reading an excerpt. (Unfortunately, many other resources mentioned on the sight are unavailable.)
Reading Group Center
Discussion questions to help readers better understand the novel
A Lesson Before Dying Education Site
Study guide and plot summary for the novel, with discussion questions and poems which are relevant to the novel.
Oprah's Book Club site for the novel
Information on the author and novel, with discussion questions
Oakland Unified School District lesson plan for A Lesson Before Dying
Includes interviews, activities and assignments
Life and Career of Ernest Gaines
From Gale Research Major 20th Century Writers entry
A Louisiana Life: Ernest J. Gaines
Biography and interview from Lousiana Life Magazine
"I heard the voices . . . of my Louisiana people" A Conversation with Ernest Gaines
Interview for On the Same Page Cincinnati
Interview with Ernest J. Gaines on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition"
Radio Interview, 15 April, 2004, full text from GALILEO (may not be accessible by off campus computers)
Interview with Ernest J. Gaines
for Sojourners Magazine 31.5 (Sept./Oct. 2002): 30-33, full text from GALILEO (may not be accessible by off campus computers)
Full Text Articles
"Louisiana Foodways in Ernest Gaines's A Lesson Before Dying"
Courtney Ramsay, Louisiana Folklore Miscellany (1995)
Scholarly article on food in the novel, available on the web
"Redemption According to Ernest Gaines."
Vancil, David E. African American Review 28.3 (1994): 489-491. A review of A Lesson Before Dying from JSTORS (may not be accessible by off campus computers)
Ernest J. Gaines: A Special Issue.
Callaloo 3.1 (1978).
An issue of this journal devoted to Gaines, with poems, scholarly articles, a photo essay and an interview. Note that this issue precedes A Lesson Before Dying, but it still has useful information. Available from JSTORS (may not be accessible by off campus computers)
"Communal Responsibility in Ernest J. Gaines's A Lesson Before Dying."
Folks, Jeffrey J., Mississippi Quarterly, 52.2 (1999): 259-272
Full text scholarly article from GALILEO (may not be accessible by off campus computers)
"'Lesson' Poses Big Questions."
Mason, M. S. Christian Science Monitor 91.123 (21 May, 1999)
Full-text review of film from GALILEO (may not be accessible by off campus computers)
Acclaimed Novelist Recounts Characters
Newspaper article on Gaines from The Times-Picayune
Ernest Gaines Traces His Art to Plantation Roots
Article and interview from San Francisco Chronicle