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Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin

Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953)

by James Baldwin

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (36)  Dutch (1)  All languages (37)
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
Great book. Well worth reading. ( )
  JVioland | Jul 14, 2014 |
While this book is considered a work of fiction, anyone that is familiar with Baldwin's life story will see an obvious connection. I was immediately whisked away to Harlem, where I was a ghost, hiding in corners watching as the story unfolded and the characters revealed themselves. The book is a story of complex lives entwined with ghosts from the past. I found myself hurting for Deborah and Elizabeth and disliking Gabriel. I wanted to reach out and hug John one minute and the next tell him to 'man up'. This book is a classic that should be required reading in all schools. ( )
  wearylibrarian | Feb 5, 2014 |
An amazing book. It touched my heart. Everyone should read and understand this lovely writer. It is an American classic. ( )
  BBT | Jan 28, 2014 |
All this time I thought it was called 'Go Tell it *to* the Mountain.' Well, the mountain gets told from a great height I guess. Great structure, great writing, great insight. A few reviewers complain that the ending is too 'simplistic,' which I take it means 'main character doesn't become an atheist.' Indeed he doesn't, but to describe anything about this book as simplistic or disappointing, as if being slightly different means you have to break out of your entire community and history, is itself bizarrely simplistic. This book is great, and the ending deserves to be read closely and thought through, not complained about. ( )
  stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
It's hard to sum up Go Tell it on the Mountain, which is in part about 14 year old John Grimes and his rough home life, how he longs to escape the path his preacher father walked and find another kind of living that still escapes sin. It's also about John's the spiritual awakening one night while nearby his father, mother, and aunt each say their own prayers and remember their own lives.

Religion is a major theme of this book; it's at the periphery of every scene and sometimes right out front. It brushes against the Christian faith, sits with it, lives in it, while at the same time showing some of the hypocrisy of those who preach it.

The novel unfolds somewhat like a poem, in that it doesn't follow a straight linear thread. Rather it relies on image, tone, and symbolism as it moves from scene to scene. The language is lyrical and vivid, thick with emotion, and like a poem I had to sit with it for a moment and try to absorb what I could. It's a book I'll return to again, to read and see what else I might discover.

Highly recommended. ( )
1 vote andreablythe | Nov 5, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James Baldwinprimary authorall 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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:52:14 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

As one of the century's premier American writers, James Baldwin has profoundly altered the nation's social and literary consciousness. "Go Tell It on the Mountain", Baldwin's first novel, brings Harlem and the black experience vividly to life, as it starkly contrasts two generations of an embattled black family.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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