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Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Sunday, August 2, 2009

James Baldwin, Happy Birthday!!!

"Although Baldwin was quite active in the Civil Rights movement, he participated only by returning to the States in the 1950s and 1960s from France, a country to which he had bought a one-way ticket in 1948. After that time, he moved back and forth, never staying in the States for an extended period. Whatever his vantage point, Baldwin continued to prod Americans into better behavior, for he genuinely loved the country that was less willing than he would have wished to return that love."
--Trudier Harris, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
"
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

Listen up. Today, this Sunday, The Daddy is feeling James Baldwin, black American novelist, essayist, and playwright. Today is his birthday. Baldwin was unusually gifted in explaining the African American condition and the psyche of white America which developed and maintained those conditions. He said America would not significantly improve until it confronted its history, learned its lessons, and began anew.

The first of nine children, Baldwin was born in Harlem in 1924 to father David, a clergyman and factory worker, and to mother Berdis Jones Baldwin. After high school, he worked a series of odd jobs until he won a fellowship that allowed him to live and write in Paris. There, he finished "Go Tell It on the Mountain" (1953), his first novel. which immediately established him as one of the new and leading commentators on America. His later collection of essays-- "Notes of a Native Son" (1955) and "Nobody Knows My Name" (1961), respectively-- only elevated his stature as one of America's leading social critics.

James Baldwin

Baldwin wrote very good novels-- "Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone" (1968), "Just Above My Head" (1979)-- and two very good plays: "Amen Corner" (1950) and "Blues for Mr. Charlie" (1964). But Baldwin was known chiefly for his unique and passionate writing about the black condition in the United States. He believed that the suffering of blacks in the United States symbolizes the suffering of oppressed people in other lands. And he believed that no one came out of this suffering unscathed. Whites, too, suffered for the deeds they and their parents had done through generations.

Baldwin was also an activist. During the turbulent period of the civil rights movement, Baldwin came back to the United States to assist his friend Dr. Martin Luther King to raise funds to keep his (Dr. King's) organization (The Southern Christian Leadership Conference) going and to pay to get arrested protesters out of jail.

Have you read James Baldwin?
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Selected works:
  • GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN, 1953 - Mene ja kerro se vuorille (suom. Reijo Tuomi, 1964) - TV drama 1985, prod. Learning in Focus, dir. Stan Lathan, starring Paul Winfield, Rosalind Cash, James Bond III, Roderick Wimberly, Olivia Cole
  • NOTES OF A NATIVE SON, 1955
  • GIOVANNI'S ROOM, 1956 - Huone Pariisissa (suom. Reijo Tuomi ja Matti Salo, 1964)
  • NOBODY KNOWS MY NAME, 1962 - Kukaan ei tiedä nimeäni (suom. Juhani Pietiläinen, 1965)
  • ANOTHER COUNTRY, 1962 - Toinen maa (suom. Erkki Haglund, 1970)
  • THE FIRE NEXT TIME, 1963 - Ensi kerralla tulta (suom. Kristiina Kivivuori, 1964)
  • BLUES FOR MISTER CHARLIE, (a play, produced in 1964)
  • GOING TO MEET THE MAN, 1965 - Musta blues (suom. Liisa Salosaari, 1967)
  • TELL ME HOW LONG THE TRAIN'S BEEN GONE, 1968 - Sano minulle, milloin juna lähti (suom. Irmeli Sallamo, 1970)
  • A RAP ON RACE, 1971 (with Margaret Mead)
  • IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK, 1974 - Jos tämä katu osaisi puhua (suom. Eero Huhtala, 1975) - film A la place du coeur (1998), prod. Agat Films & Cie (France), dir. by Robert Guédiguian, starring Laure Raoust, Alexandre Agou, Ariane Ascaride
  • THE DEVIL FINDS WORK, 1976
  • JUST ABOVE MY HEAD, 1979
  • THE EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN, 1985
  • THE PRICE OF THE TICKET: COLLECTED NON-FICTION 1948-1985, 1985
  • PERSPECTIVES: ANGLES ON AFRICAN ART, 1987
  • CONVERSATIONS WITH JAMES BALDWIN, 1989
  • EARLY NOVELS AND STORIES, 1998
  • COLLECTED ESSAYS, 1998 (ed. by Toni Morrison)

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Blogger msladydeborah said...

I am getting ready to increase my home library with some classic Black literature. Baldwin is the first author that I am going to add to my collection. I read all of his works while growing up and I still believe he is one of our most important authors.

I gave my sons the books that I had by Baldwin and insisted that they read them. At first there was resistance to the idea. They didn't think that he would be interesting because of when his works were published. But, once they got into the stories and essays on the subject of race, they discovered that he had a powerful published voice.

Thanks for posting this information.

August 2, 2009 8:34 AM

El Nuyorican said...

James Baldwin was/ is one of my heroes. He broke it down like very few have. It's also important to note that he was a homosexual and I believe he doesn't get of his due because of that.

-- Eddie

Max Reddick said...

James Baldwin is one of my original favorite authors. He was my source of higher education even before I went to college. When I was in high school, my mother insisted that I read his works. However, it was not until later when I had advanced my critical reading skills that I could fully understand them. And at that time, I was grateful for the gift my mother had given me.

SagaciousHillbilly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SagaciousHillbilly said...

"American novelist, essayist, and playwright" and one of my alltime great heros!

Baldwin wrote in a way that you felt what he was feeling, smelled the smells, felt the ground he was describing walking on, heard the sounds, felt the emotions deep inside. . . only the really great ones can do that consistently.

Corey said...

Bravo on the Baldwin post!
His birthday slipped past me!
My favorites are Go Tell It, Just Above My Head, and Another Country.
As I write this, I'm thinking how ODD it is that the DEFINITIVE BIOGRAPHY on Baldwin hasn't been written yet!

MacDaddy said...

"I read all of his works while growing up and I still believe he is one of our most important authors."
Msladydeborah, my feelings precisely.

Nuyorican: You may be right that. Maybe he didn't get all his due because he was homosexual. But I must say, from what I read, he was highly celebrated in the sixties and still is so today. For example, he was scheduled to speak at the march on Washington. But people had to submit their speech to a committee that was controlled by people from the white house, headed by a man named Sergeant Shriver, I believe. Baldwin wouldn't do it. So he never got to speak. But the fact that he was asked says a lot about his importance and popularity in 1963. Also, it's been stated by many black leaders that two books most read on black college campuses in the sixties was The Autobiography of Malcolm X and The Fire Next Time by Baldwin. He was a pretty popular guy.

Max: What great insight your mother had.

Sagacious: He is my favorite of all times too-- every since the first time I read him.

MacDaddy said...

Sagacious: The first book I read by Baldwin, I think, was "Another Country." I couldn't believe how deep and how painfully honest that book was. And I still think it is one of his greatest work of fiction and is comparable to writers from any country, including D. H. Lawrence.

nicki nicki tembo said...

I was introduced to Baldwin in junior high. I believe I found "Just Above My Head" in a pile of books at my grandmother's house. I remember thinking how difficult it was to get off into at the beginning. I have met some adults that still are not able to follow his flow. A literary mastermind!