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Notes of a Native Son (1955)

by James Baldwin

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,670278,646 (4.17)94
Originally published in 1955, James Baldwin's first nonfiction book has become a classic. These searing essays on life in Harlem, the protest novel, movies, and Americans abroad remain as powerful today as when they were written. "He named for me the things you feel but couldn't utter. . . . Jimmy's essays articulated for the first time to white America what it meant to be American and a black American at the same time."… (more)
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» See also 94 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Hard to read but essential

Baldwin is most relatable when he writes about his personal experiences in France, but every essay in this book is important. ( )
  nbornstein | Mar 5, 2022 |
At times Baldwin offers a visceral sense of the rage that vast injustice of American culture has sown in its adamant racism. At times he entertains with his criticisms of Native Son and Carmen Jones. And he enthralls with his description of his arrest and the several days he spent in Paris jails. This is more an ad hoc assembly that a targeted collection, but the messages lack only details of being as accurate today as they were when he first penned them. ( )
  quondame | Feb 27, 2022 |
I have to start off by saying Notes of a Native Son was way too short. I felt that Baldwin could have kept writing and writing. His essays held such clarity and truth they could have been written last year, last month, or even last week. Ranging from an analytical commentary of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin to remembering the time he was jailed in Paris for allegedly stealing a bedsheet, Baldwin expresses his place in society with the utmost frankness. The most tender of moments came when writing about his father, a man with which he had a complicated relationship. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Nov 19, 2021 |
Painful truths.
  Elizabeth80 | Sep 15, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
James Baldwin writes down to nobody, and he is trying very hard to write up to himself. As an essayist he is thought-provoking, tantalizing, irritating, abusing and amusing. And he uses words as the sea uses waves, to flow and beat, advance and retreat, rise and take a bow in disappearing. ... Few American writers handle words more effectively in the essay form than James Baldwin. To my way of thinking, he is much better at provoking thought in the essay than he is arousing emotion in fiction. I much prefer "Notes of a Native Son" to his novel, "Go Tell It on the Mountain," where the surface excellence and poetry of his writing did not seem to me to suit the earthiness of his subject matter. In his essays, words and material suit each other. The thought becomes poetry, and the poetry illuminates the thought.
added by Lemeritus | editNew York Times, Langston Hughes (pay site) (Feb 26, 1958)
 
The collected "pieces" of the author of Go Tell It on the Mountain form a compelling unit as he applies the high drama of poetry and sociology to a penetrating analysis of the Negro experience on the American and European scene. ... The expression of so many insights enriches rather than clarifies, and behind every page stalks a man, an everyman, seeking his identity...and ours. Exceptional writing.
added by Lemeritus | editKirkus Review (Nov 1, 1955)
 

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Baldwin, Jamesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Butler, RonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Denderski, MikołajTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, Edward P.Forewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Messelaar, GerardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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FOR
PAULA MARIA
AND
GEBRIL
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In Uncle Tom's Cabin, that cornerstone of American social protest fiction, St. Clare, the kindly master, remarks to his coldly disapproving Yankee cousin, Miss Ophelia, that, so far as he is able to tell, the blacks have been turned over to the devil for the benefit of the whites in this world - however, he adds thoughtfully, it may turn out in the next.
[Introduction] I did not know James Baldwin the essayist before my first year of college.
[Preface to the 1984 Edition] It was Sol Stein, high school buddy, editor, novelist, playwright, who first suggested this book.
[Autobiographical Notes] En avant.
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Originally published in 1955, James Baldwin's first nonfiction book has become a classic. These searing essays on life in Harlem, the protest novel, movies, and Americans abroad remain as powerful today as when they were written. "He named for me the things you feel but couldn't utter. . . . Jimmy's essays articulated for the first time to white America what it meant to be American and a black American at the same time."

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Book description
Contents:
  • Everybody's Protest Novel
  • Many Thousands Gone
  • Carmen Jones: The Dark Is Light Enough
  • The Harlem Ghetto
  • Journey to Atlanta
  • Notes of a Native Son
  • Encounter on the Seine: Black Meets Brown
  • A Question of Identity
  • Equal in Paris
  • Stranger in the Village
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Beacon Press

An edition of this book was published by Beacon Press.

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