James Baldwin

James Baldwin, 1924–87, American author, b. New York City. He spent an impoverished boyhood in Harlem, became a Pentecostal preacher at 14, and left the church three years later. He moved to Paris in 1947 and his first two novels, Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953), reflecting his experience as a young preacher, and Giovanni's Room (1956), which dealt with his homosexuality, as well as the intensely personal, racially charged essay collection Notes of a Native Son (1955), were written while he lived there. Baldwin returned to the United States in 1957 and participated in the civil-rights movement, later returning to France where he lived for the remainder of his life. Another Country (1962), a bitter novel about sexual relations and racial tension, received critical acclaim, as did the perceptive essays in what is probably his most celebrated book, The Fire Next Time (1963). His eloquence and unsparing honesty made Baldwin one of the most influential authors of his time. Other works include the play Blues for Mr. Charlie (1964); a volume of short stories, Going to Meet the Man (1964); and the novels If Beale Street Could Talk (1974), the story of a young black couple victimized by the judicial system, and Just above My Head (1979). Collections of essays include Nobody Knows My Name (1961), No Name in the Street (1972), and The Price of a Ticket (1985). His Collected Essays was published in 1998 and The Cross of Redemption: Uncollected Writings in 2010.

See biographies by W. J. Wetherby (1989), J. Campbell (1991), and D. Leeming (1994); interviews in James Baldwin: The Legacy (1989, ed. by Q. Troupe) and Conversations with James Baldwin (1989, ed. by F. L. Standley and L. H. Pratt); studies by L. H. Pratt (1985), H. A. Porter (1989), D. A. McBride, ed. (1999), D. Q. Miller (2000), L. O. Scott (2002), H. Bloom, ed. (2006), D. Field, ed. (2009), and M. J. Zaborowska (2009).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

James Baldwin: America's Native Son
Rusciano, Frank Louis.
Academic Exchange Quarterly, Vol. 7, No. 4, Winter 2003
The Evidence of Things Not Said: James Baldwin and the Promise of American Democracy
Lawrie Balfour.
Cornell University Press, 2001
The Racial Problem in the Works of Richard Wright and James Baldwin
Jean-François Gounardoo; Joseph J. Rodgers Jr.
Greenwood Press, 1992
The Apocalypse in African-American Fiction
Maxine Lavon Montgomery.
University Press of Florida, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "James Baldwin, Go Tell It on the Mountain"
Of Dreams Deferred, Dead or Alive: African Perspectives on African-American Writers
Femi Ojo-Ade.
Greenwood Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 8 "Notions and Nuances: Africa in the Works of James Baldwin"
The Better James Baldwin
Allen, Brooke.
New Criterion, Vol. 16, No. 8, April 1998
Beneath the Black Aesthetic: James Baldwin's Primer of Black American Masculinity
Shin, Andrew; Hudson, Barbara.
African American Review, Vol. 32, No. 2, Summer 1998
Out of and Back to Africa: James Baldwin's Go Tell It on the Mountain
Sivan, Miriam.
Christianity and Literature, Vol. 51, No. 1, Autumn 2001
"Come-to-Jesus Stuff" in James Baldwin's 'Go Tell It on the Mountain' and 'The Amen Corner.' (a Novel and a Play)
Olson, Barbara K.
African American Review, Vol. 31, No. 2, Summer 1997
The Biblical Foundation of James Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues"
Tackach, James.
Renascence: Essays on Values in Literature, Vol. 59, No. 2, Winter 2007
"Just Enough for the City": Limitations of Space in Baldwin's 'Another Country'
Reddinger, Amy.
African American Review, Vol. 43, No. 1, Spring 2009
"Payin' One's Dues": Expatriation as Personal Experience and Paradigm in the Works of James Baldwin
Tomlinson, Robert.
African American Review, Vol. 33, No. 1, Spring 1999
"I'm Not the Boy You Want": Sexuality, "Race," and Thwarted Revolution in Baldwin's 'Another Country.'
Ohi, Kevin.
African American Review, Vol. 33, No. 2, Summer 1999
Family and Community Secrets: Secrecy in the Works of James Baldwin
Shannon, Janet Harrison.
The Western Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 22, No. 3, Fall 1998
Parallel Perversions: Interracial and Same Sexuality in James Baldwin's Another Country
Dunning, Stefanie.
MELUS, Vol. 26, No. 4, Winter 2001
No Name in the South: James Baldwin and the Monuments of Identity
Birmingham, Kevin.
African American Review, Vol. 44, No. 1-2, Spring-Summer 2011
Great American Writers: Twentieth Century
R. Baird Shuman.
Marshall Cavendish, vol.1, 2002
Librarian’s tip: "James Baldwin" begins on p. 101
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