Collected Essays, Volume 2

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Library of America, 1998 - Literary Collections - 869 pages
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Novelist, essayist, and public intellectual, James Baldwin was one of the most brilliant and provocative literary figures of the postwar era, and one of the greatest African-American writers of this century. A self-described "transatlantic commuter" who spent much of his life in France, Baldwin joined cosmopolitan sophistication with a fierce engagement in social issues. Edited by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, the Library of America's Collected Essays—the most comprehensive gathering of Baldwin's nonfiction ever published—confirms him as a uniquely prophetic voice in American letters.

With burning passion and jabbing, epigrammatic wit, Baldwin fearlessly articulated issues of race and democracy and American identity in such famous essays as "The Harlem Ghetto," "Everybody's Protest Novel," "Many Thousands Gone," and "Stranger in the Village." Here are the complete texts of his early landmark collections, Notes of a Native Son (1955) and Nobody Knows My Name (1961), which established him as an essential intellectual voice of his time, fusing in unique fashion the personal, the literary, and the political. "One writes," he stated, "out of one thing only—one's own experience. Everything depends on how relentlessly one forces from this experience the last drop, sweet or bitter, it can possibly give." With singular eloquence and unblinking sharpness of observation he lived up to his credo: "I want to be an honest man and a good writer."

The classic The Fire Next Time (1963), perhaps the most influential of his writings, is his most penetrating analysis of America's racial divide and an impassioned call to "end the racial nightmare...and change the history of the world." The later volumes No Name in the Street (1972) and The Devil Finds Work (1976) chart his continuing response to the social and political turbulence of his era and include his remarkable works of film criticism. A further 36 essays—nine of them previously uncollected—include some of Baldwin's earliest published writings, as well as revealing later insights into the language of Shakespeare, the poetry of Langston Hughes, and the music of Earl Hines.

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User Review  - Mr.Durick - LibraryThing

The journalists recollect James Baldwin when they talk about police killings, and James Baldwin was at Selma for the march with the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Just before the murder at ... Read full review

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User Review  - progmetal420 - LibraryThing

Notes of a Native Son: the autobiographical section alone is amazing. The rest of the essay is broken up into various sections based on movie or book reviews; the most compelling are the ones based on ... Read full review


Notes of a Nat1ve
Everybodys Protest Novel
Many Thousands Gone

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About the author (1998)

Toni Morrison, volume editor, is the author of a number of award-winning novels, including Love, Jazz, Beloved, Song of Solomon, Sula, and The Bluest Eye. She was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993.

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