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Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin

Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953)

by James Baldwin

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Some of the character studies were compelling, but (and I hate to sound like a reddit atheist here) Christianity is extremely goofy to me so I couldn't take the religious struggles seriously at all. ( )
  xicohtli | Jul 20, 2016 |
If I hadn't been reading Go Tell it on the Mountain for class, I probably wouldn't have finished it. The writing was difficult to sink into and I didn't really relate to the characters.

That being said, I'm glad I finished it. Once I fell into the rhythm of the story I was hooked, and I enjoyed reading about a style of religion and life that is far removed from my own ideas. ( )
  shulera1 | Jun 7, 2016 |
Beautifully written, psychologically sharp and sociologically perceptive portrait of the coming of age of a young man in the streets of Harlem. Published in 1953, the book captures the oppressive and hypocritical power of religion among the poor black communities of both the South and New York City. At the same time, it illustrates why the two communities are drawn to the church, because of the sometimes transformative, even redemptive, power of its community and its practices. The women in the book suffer and bring their pain and shame to the church, hoping for redemption. The men either want nothing to do with religion, or use it to puff themselves up and crush those around them. The children offer the most hope for reconciliation between the church and the world. To avoid spoilers, I won't talk about the ending, but I will say that I admired the book most for the beauty of its style and its vivid portrayal of a number of very different characters. ( )
  kishields | Feb 29, 2016 |
This book is purportedly the story of 14-year-old John on his birthday but I found the flashbacks telling the stories of John's aunt, father and mother were the most interesting parts of the book. In particular, I found the final section in which John is "saved" during a church service bewildering -- are the type of hallucinations John has normal for a spiritual rebirth? ( )
2 vote leslie.98 | Jan 21, 2016 |
James Baldwin......I know...what more is there to say about this powerful, profound writer. This story of spiritual journey is eloquent, moving and engaging. How did John come to his commitment to the Lord? Read and you will know. This novel is about individual and collective faith and identity. It is about the humanity of the devout. It is about leaps of faith and deep wisdom. And, it is about family. ( )
  hemlokgang | Dec 14, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James Baldwinprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cosgrave, John O'HaraIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, DianeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, LeoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Hagan, AndrewIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
For my father and mother
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Everyone had always said that John would be a preacher when he grew up, just like his father.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385334575, Paperback)

First published in 1953 when James Baldwin was nearly 30, Go Tell It on the Mountain is a young man's novel, as tightly coiled as a new spring, yet tempered by a maturing man's confidence and empathy. It's not a long book, and its action spans but a single day--yet the author packs in enough emotion, detail, and intimate revelation to make his story feel like a mid-20th-century epic. Using as a frame the spiritual and moral awakening of 14-year-old John Grimes during a Saturday night service in a Harlem storefront church, Baldwin lays bare the secrets of a tormented black family during the depression. John's parents, praying beside him, both wrestle with the ghosts of their sinful pasts--Gabriel, a preacher of towering hypocrisy, fathered an illegitimate child during his first marriage down South and refused to recognize his doomed bastard son; Elizabeth fell in love with a charming, free-spirited young man, followed him to New York, became pregnant with his son, and lost him before she could reveal her condition.

Baldwin lays down the terrible symmetries of these two blighted lives as the ironic context for John's dark night of the soul. When day dawns, John believes himself saved, but his creator makes it clear that this salvation arises as much from blindness as revelation: "He was filled with a joy, a joy unspeakable, whose roots, though he would not trace them on this new day of his life, were nourished by the wellspring of a despair not yet discovered."

Though it was hailed at publication for its groundbreaking use of black idiom, what is most striking about Go Tell It on the Mountain today is its structure and its scope. In peeling back the layers of these damaged lives, Baldwin dramatizes the story of the great black migration from rural South to urban North. "Behind them was the darkness," Baldwin writes of Gabriel and Elizabeth's lost generation, "nothing but the darkness, and all around them destruction, and before them nothing but the fire--a bastard people, far from God, singing and crying in the wilderness!" This is Baldwin's music--a music in which rhapsody is rooted anguish--and there is none finer in American literature. --David Laskin

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:00 -0400)

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Describes a day in the life of several members of a Harlem fundamentalist church. The saga of three generations of people is related through flashbacks.

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