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Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953)

by James Baldwin

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4,7221001,781 (3.86)423
A young black boy in the 1930's tries to win the respect of his stepfather.
1950s (13)
My TBR (120)
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» See also 423 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 97 (next | show all)
Incredible wonderful fantastic amazing warm true painful honest beautiful lyrical meaningful

I was a bit lost during the sermons and religious sections / visions so if any of you spot a course or detailed in depth breakdown on this book online somewhere send it my way. ( )
  RebeccaBooks | Sep 16, 2021 |
An interesting story built on painful moments. I found it very easy to empathize with John's complex adolescent relationship to religion. My own biases led me to expect a very different ending, but I am glad to have read this... and the semi-autobiographical nature adds a good bit of additional context to Baldwin's later writing. ( )
  MCBacon | Aug 2, 2021 |
I normally like books that jump in time but I require some indication that we are now reading about a different person in a different time period. Then there are the characters with similar names. I spent much of the time lost and confused until part 3, which totally escaped my comprehension. What the heck happened to John? And despite keeping my brain buzzing in confusion I was also bored. Sadly, I wasn’t the right audience for this style. ( )
  KarenMonsen | Jul 27, 2021 |
The Short of It:

A beautifully written, semi-autobiographical peek into the life of James Baldwin.

The Rest of It:

In one of the greatest American classics, Baldwin chronicles a fourteen-year-old boy’s discovery of the terms of his identity. Baldwin’s rendering of his protagonist’s spiritual, sexual, and moral struggle of self-invention opened new possibilities in the American language and in the way Americans understand themselves. ~ Indiebound

James Baldwin had been coming up a lot in my book club’s various social media feeds and we had not really read him before, so when it came time to select a book, Go Tell It On The Mountain was chosen. From the short blurb above, you’d think that the story follows this young boy through his self-discovery process and it does, but there are other stories told along the way. Stories about his relationship with his step-father, how religion impacted him growing up, how the misfortune of others affected his family down the line. These stories are loosely woven together but not for one big epiphany at the end. I feel that the end is left for the reader to interpret as we all had different takes on where the character would go from there.

This story encouraged some thoughtful discussion so it worked well as a book club pick. I also enjoyed the writing. It had a flow to it that appealed to me as I was reading it and since it’s semi-autobiographical, I learned about Baldwin’s experience with the Pentecostal Church and how he struggled with his sexual identity. There’s a lot to consider here.

For more reviews, visit my blog: Book Chatter. ( )
  tibobi | Jun 21, 2021 |
"There are people in the world for whom "coming along" is a perpetual process, people who are destined never to arrive."

Set in Harlem in the 1930's 'Go Tell It on the Mountain' draws heavily on Baldwin's own childhood. The entire book takes place on the fourteenth birthday of John Grimes, the adopted son of a fiery Pentecostal preacher, who finds himself at odds with his authoritarian father and his faith.

The book is divided into three parts. In the first; John becomes aware that his own desires and goals differ from the expectations of his family and community. The second part revolves around John's mother and father, Elizabeth and Gabriel, and their early bitter experiences of life in the South and later in the North where they hoped that their union would wash away their past sins. In the final part John surrenders himself to religious ecstasy.

As you would expect the novel is peppered with biblical references that evoke the spirit and realism of the black church and a community struggling with its demons.

"The rebirth of the soul is perpetual; only rebirth every hour could stay the hand of Satan."

The novel is semi-autobiographical and consequently reflects Baldwin's own religious doubts, experiences as well as his difficult relationship with his own father. The story features some very complex issues and whilst it is undoubtedly well written it failed to really grab me somehow meaning that I found it an OK read rather than a good one. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Jun 14, 2021 |
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» Add other authors (55 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James Baldwinprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bosch, AndrésTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brown, DanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cosgrave, John O'HaraIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Danticat, EdwidgeIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, DianeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, LeoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lazarre-White, AdamNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Hagan, AndrewIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Yentus, HelenCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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.
Dedication
For my father and mother
First words
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.)
Disambiguation notice
First edition was in 1953. Corgi editions show copyright date as 1954. The US Catalog of copyright entries for Jan-June 1953 details that application for copyright stated that 'the section "Exodus" appeared in the Aug. 1952 issue of American mercury, and "Roy's wound" in New world writing, 1952'.
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A young black boy in the 1930's tries to win the respect of his stepfather.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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