Author Archives: Josh

James Baldwin – Going to Meet the Man and Some Mid-60’s Essays

“The American situation is very peculiar and it may be without precedent in the world. No curtain under heaven is heavier than that curtain of guilt and lies behind which white Americans hide” (James Baldwin, “White Man’s Guilt”) One of my earliest James … Continue reading

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James Baldwin – The Fire Next Time

The words of “My Dungeon Shook” ring in my ears almost every single day.  Somehow the centerpiece of that ringing is a simple imperative sentence about 3/4 of the way through the final, two-page paragraph: You, don’t be afraid. That paragraph, itself, … Continue reading

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James Baldwin – Another Country

Another Country is James Baldwin’s third novel, and is is quite a bit longer than Baldwin’s first two, maybe even longer than both of them combined.  It’s interesting to me that it basically covers a lot of the same ground that his essays … Continue reading

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James Baldwin – Nobody Knows My Name (and some other essays from the early 60’s)

The greatest takeaway for me from Nobody Knows Your Name is “Fifth Avanue, Uptown: A Letter from Harlem.”  In this essay Baldwin explores the phenomenology of police violence – again, if you don’t care what I have to say, at least … Continue reading

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James Baldwin – Giovanni’s Room

I was really surprised when I figured out that David, the protagonist of Baldwin’s second novel, Giovanni’s Room, was white.  The novel never says so directly, but he is described a handful of times as “blonde.”  In fact, as far … Continue reading

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Notes of a Native Son – Part 3 (of 3)

The last part of Notes of a Native Son is made up of several travel essays Baldwin wrote in Europe – “Encounter on the Seine: Black Meets Brown,” an essay about how African Americans see Africans (and vice-versa) in Paris; “A … Continue reading

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Notes of a Native Son – Part 2

…it goes without saying that injustice is a commonplace. But this did not mean that one could be complacent, for the second idea was of equal power: that one must never, in one’s own life, accept these injustices as commonplace but … Continue reading

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Notes of a Native Son – Part 1

Notes of a Native Son (1955) collects some previously published essays and includes some originally penned for the collection.  I have read the eponymous essay (“Notes of a Native Son”) with my classes for the last several years, and it’s … Continue reading

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James Baldwin – Go Tell It on the Mountain

Go Tell It on the Mountain is easy to underestimate, especially if you place it into the too-easy critical category of “semiautobiographical first novel.”  The first time I read it, a few years ago, I made just that mistake.  I spent … Continue reading

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James Baldwin – Earliest Collected Essays on Race, Sexuality and Bad Books

In six early book reviews, Baldwin pans what he sees as second-rate novels.  I read these pieces mostly with an eye to seeing trends in Baldwin’s views on the questions those novels dealt with more than as reviews per se (especially since I … Continue reading

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