NOTES OF A NATIVE SON by James Baldwin


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The collected "pieces" of the author of Go Tell It on the Mountain form a compelling unit as he applies the high drama of poetry and sociology to a penetrating analysis of the Negro experience on the American and European scene. He bares the brutal boners of "everybody's protest novel" from Stowe to Wright; points out that black is "devil-color" according to Christian theology and to "make white" is thus to save; reveals the positive base of Carmen Jones, movie version, as Negroes are white, that is, moral. Beyond such artistic attitudinal displays lie experimental realities: the Harlem Ghetto with its Negro press, the positive element of which tries to emulate the white press and provides an incongruous mixture of slick style and stark subject; the Ghetto with its churches and its hatred of the American reality behind the Jewish face (from which, as sufferers, so much was expected). There is a trip to Atlanta for the Wallace campaign and indignities endured; there is a beautiful essay, from which the book takes its title- of father and son and the corroding power of hate as it could grow from injustice. In Europe, there is the encounter of African and American Negro; a sojourn in jail over a stolen sheet; and last, the poignant essay of the first Negro to come to a remote Swiss village, to be greeted as a living wonder. This is not true in America, where he has a place, though equivocal, in our united life. The expression of so many insights enriches rather than clarifies, and behind every page stalks a man, an everyman, seeking his identity...and ours. Exceptional writing.
Pub Date: Nov. 10th, 1955
ISBN: 0807064319
Publisher: Beacon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1955


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