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Old 04-14-2012, 08:30 AM
 
Location: George Town Tasmania, Australia
126 posts, read 169,049 times
Reputation: 105

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BALDWIN

In his first novel Go Tell It on the Mountain, published in 1953, American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic, James Baldwin(1924-1987), wrote with intensity about the power of prayer and preaching. He wrote on behalf of an otherwise powerless community of which he was a part. It was a time, he wrote, filled with soaring possibilities in contrast to the bitter world outside.

It was as though life’s very bitterness offered his congregation a unique insight into the suffering of Christ, a bitterness which made the congregation for that time of prayer and preaching a chosen people whose spiritual exaltation, in all its fiery rhetoric and colourful abandon, could never be experienced by white people. Baldwin matched this novel with an essay, “Down at the Cross,” published in 1962, in which he wrote about his own conversion as an adolescent filled with doubts and fears and ambitions and a sharp sense of exclusion:

“One moment I was on my feet, singing and clapping and, at the same time, working out in my head the plot of a play; the next moment, with no transition, no sensation of falling, I was on my back, with the lights beating down into my face and all the vertical saints above me.” –Ron Price with thanks to Colm Toibin, “James Baldwin & Barack Obama,” The New York Review of Books, 23 October 2008.

I was too young back then
to get into your novels and
essays being a primary and
secondary school student in
Ontario---reading what was
necessary to qualify for my
entrance to university, just
growing-up and making the
best of my little-town world.

I got religious experience in
very different ways to you &
involvement, in my case, was
with Australia and not France;1
I found a new power, a freedom,
a sense of a destiny to fulfil and I
worked out my identity, exploring
my society & myself, making it up
as I went along—and I went along
to many a town across 2 continents.

Out of my failures and my successes,
I saw hope, a new set of values, and I
gradually produced an autobiography
out of my efforts to make sense of this
complex world and my complex playful
self, as well as my own unique place in
history, remaking my world in my own
likeness and in the context of a vision
with a question before me: “What will
happen to all this radiant & pure beauty?”

1 Baldwin moved to Paris in November 1948 when he was twenty-four. “I left America,” he wrote in 1959, the year I joined the Baha’i Faith, “because I doubted my ability to survive the fury of the colour problem here…. I wanted to prevent myself from becoming merely a Negro; or, even, merely a Negro writer.”
I moved to Australia in July 1971 when I was 26 because I saw myself as part of Canada’s international Baha’i diaspora or pioneering mission overseas. I had already experienced some personal furies associated with episodes of bipolar disorder and more would come Downunder. I wanted to play a role in the then Nine Year Plan, 1964-1973, and I did.

Ron Price
11 November 2011
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Old 04-14-2012, 11:06 AM
 
841 posts, read 1,493,645 times
Reputation: 1145
I like his work very much!
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Old 04-14-2012, 05:37 PM
 
2,719 posts, read 5,904,226 times
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I became a fan of James Baldwin after reading his 1955 essay "Notes of a Native Son" written after the death of his abusive step-father. This is my favorite passage:

"The dead man mattered, the new life mattered, blackness and whiteness did not matter; to believe that they did was to acquiesce in one's own destruction. Hatred, which could destroy so much, never failed to destroy the man who hated and this was an immutable law."

This essay says so much about Baldwin the preacher, Baldwin the writer and the power of personal change.
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Old 04-28-2012, 02:06 AM
 
Location: The Present
2,017 posts, read 3,336,749 times
Reputation: 1936
Quote:
Originally Posted by pinetreelover View Post
I became a fan of James Baldwin after reading his 1955 essay "Notes of a Native Son" written after the death of his abusive step-father. This is my favorite passage:

"The dead man mattered, the new life mattered, blackness and whiteness did not matter; to believe that they did was to acquiesce in one's own destruction. Hatred, which could destroy so much, never failed to destroy the man who hated and this was an immutable law."

This essay says so much about Baldwin the preacher, Baldwin the writer and the power of personal change.
I agree, "The Fire Next Time" was a life changing read for me personally, along with "Notes of a Native Son". Thanks for sharing that passage.
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Old 04-29-2012, 03:44 AM
 
Location: George Town Tasmania, Australia
126 posts, read 169,049 times
Reputation: 105
Default Thanks Folks

Thanks for your responses, folks. Baldwin's novels and plays fictionalize fundamental personal questions and dilemmas amid complex social and psychological pressures thwarting the equitable integration of not only blacks yet also of male homosexuals—depicting as well some internalized impediments to such individuals' quest for acceptance. Go to wikipedia for more at:James Baldwin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 04-30-2012, 07:30 PM
 
Location: Old Town Alexandria
14,506 posts, read 22,078,892 times
Reputation: 8793
Good post,thanks OP!. Read his book "Go Tell it on the Mountain" in college...

"You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.”


People who treat other people as less than human must not be surprised when the bread they have cast on the waters comes floating back to them, poisoned.”
James Baldwin
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Old 05-03-2012, 07:17 PM
 
323 posts, read 397,825 times
Reputation: 573
He was a gifted writer!!
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Old 05-13-2012, 06:20 AM
 
Location: George Town Tasmania, Australia
126 posts, read 169,049 times
Reputation: 105
Default Thanks Folks

I think I'll leave that last post of 4sankofa to end this thread. Baldwin was, indeed, "a gifted writer!!" Thanks folks for your responses.-Ron Price Australia
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Old 01-08-2013, 11:02 AM
 
27,502 posts, read 28,151,247 times
Reputation: 12391
I remember reading one of essays in high school and remember it being very strong. (But I can't remember which one it was as I had a series of essays to read by different authors.)
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