View Full Version : James Baldwin: Go tell it on the mountain
A few days ago I’ve finished James Baldwin’s first two novels and I’m still reeling from the impact. Baldwin is an extraordinary writer. Although, at least in his early work (which is all I know), he is at best a competent stylist, moving the story along without unnecessarily clunky prose, the energy that pulses in these relatively short novels is imposing. It is not hard to see why Baldwin has become such an important and influential writer, leaving traces all over the American novel, not least in the work of Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison. Subject and structure of these two novels is drastically different. One, Go tell it on the Mountain (1953) is about the ‘black experience’, telling us about the plight of an African-American family in New York and its history that includes the aftermath of slavery in the South. The novel is highly charged with religious fervor and personal desperation and manages to sum up an experience in a few episodes that border upon magical realism sometimes, reminding me of similar novels, such as Henry Roth’s Call it Sleep, where revelation plays a similar role. The other, Giovanni’s Room (1956), is about an unmarked American man’s experience in Paris who, while separated from his girlfriend, engages in an affair with a young man, the eponymous Giovanni, which ends in denial and murder. This story is told in so straightforward a manner that a possible reference, and not just because of the setting, is Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises.the rest of the somewhat blathery review's here Revelation: James Baldwin’s “Go Tell It On The Mountain” shigekuni. (http://shigekuni.wordpress.com/2009/05/02/revelation-james-baldwins-go-tell-it-on-the-mountain/)
...Hemingway?s The Sun Also Sets...
Not to appear overly anal-retentive, my dear M., but I believe the correct title is The Sun Also Rises (1926).
Yup. I'm an idiot. To which the rest of the review attests as well, I guess. Corrected it.
I have started reading Go Tell It On The Mountain yesterday and it got me! I'm still in the first pages,and I'm already loving it!
May be we could discuss it later!:)
May be we could discuss it later!I have to warn you: discussing anything with Mirabell can lead to tears and then... more tears.
Mirabell - This was definitely a fantastic read. Your review makes mention of an "energy that pulses" in the book. Yup. That's totally what grabbed me about Baldwin's writing. There are points while reading where I could feel Baldwin's frustrations and even the occasional seething rage locked into his tight prose. Ah what a writer indeed. Part three I need to read again, it was almost too well written in a way; I think I missed some of the concepts in this part as I was swept away by the writing.
So yeah, looking forward to Giovanni's Room. I already like that fact that it's such a different story than Go Tell it. It feels to me like Baldwin was taking a stand and refusing to play the role of race writer that I'm sure he was being looked upon as. As for Another Country, my understanding is that that novel is where he begins to eschew traditional narrative a bit, and I could see where that may benefit the power (pulsing energy - I like it) of his writing. I'm guessing the structure may allow for some more of that rage to seep through.
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