Notes of a Native Son

Front Cover
Beacon Press, 1984 - Social Science - 175 pages
55 Reviews

A new edition of the book many have called James Baldwin's most influential work

Written during the 1940s and early 1950s, when Baldwin was only in his twenties, the essays collected in Notes of a Native Son capture a view of black life and black thought at the dawn of the civil rights movement and as the movement slowly gained strength through the words of one of the most captivating essayists and foremost intellectuals of that era. Writing as an artist, activist, and social critic, Baldwin probes the complex condition of being black in America. With a keen eye, he examines everything from the significance of the protest novel to the motives and circumstances of the many black expatriates of the time, from his home in "The Harlem Ghetto" to a sobering "Journey to Atlanta."

Notes of a Native Son inaugurated Baldwin as one of the leading interpreters of the dramatic social changes erupting in the United States in the twentieth century, and many of his observations have proven almost prophetic. His criticism on topics such as the paternalism of white progressives or on his own friend Richard Wright's work is pointed and unabashed. He was also one of the few writing on race at the time who addressed the issue with a powerful mixture of outrage at the gross physical and political violence against black citizens and measured understanding of their oppressors, which helped awaken a white audience to the injustices under their noses. Naturally, this combination of brazen criticism and unconventional empathy for white readers won Baldwin as much condemnation as praise.

Notes is the book that established Baldwin's voice as a social critic, and it remains one of his most admired works. The essays collected here create a cohesive sketch of black America and reveal an intimate portrait of Baldwin's own search for identity as an artist, as a black man, and as an American.

  

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brilliant, deep writer. - Goodreads
Good educational and autobiography read. - Goodreads
Exceptional writing. - Kirkus
Haunting...masterful...a lot to learn for any writer. - Goodreads
Excellent writing throughout. - Goodreads
I had never read any of Baldwin's writing before. - Goodreads

Review: Notes of a Native Son

User Review  - SUSAN OWEN GLASER - Goodreads

A VERY DIFFICULT BOOK TO READ BECAUSE OF JAMES BALDWIN'S WRITING SKILLS. HE CAN BOTH MAKE YOU FEEL HIS FEELINGS AND HEAR THE CALL OF BLACKS USUALLY-EXCLUDED IN THE USA. A MUST READ FOR ANYONE THINKING ABOUT JOINING A CONVERSATION ON RACISM. Read full review

Review: Notes of a Native Son

User Review  - Kalavaughn - Goodreads

Lends an interesting perspective on current events, such as Ferguson, the Trayvon Martin case, etc. Written in 1955, it provides a glimpse into the origins of current displays of anger and vengeance ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Acknowledgments
vii
Preface to the 1984 Edition
ix
Autobiographical Notes
3
Everybodys Protest Novel
13
Many Thousands Gone
24
The Dark Is Light Enough
46
The Harlem Ghetto
57
Journey to Atlanta
73
Notes of a Native Son
85
Black Meets Brown
117
A Question of Identity
124
Equal in Paris
138
Stranger in the Village
159
Copyright

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References to this book

Spatial Formations
Nigel Thrift
No preview available - 1996
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About the author (1984)

James Baldwin (1924-1987) was a novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic, and one of America's foremost writers. His essays, such as "Notes of a Native Son" (1955), explore palpable yet unspoken intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in Western societies, most notably in mid-twentieth-century America. A Harlem, New York, native, he primarily made his home in the south of France.
His novels include "Giovanni's Room" (1956), about a white American expatriate who must come to terms with his homosexuality, and "Another Country" (1962), about racial and gay sexual tensions among New York intellectuals. His inclusion of gay themes resulted in much savage criticism from the black community. "Going to Meet the Man" (1965) and "Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone" (1968) provided powerful descriptions of American racism. As an openly gay man, he became increasingly outspoken in condemning discrimination against lesbian and gay people.

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