Thursday, March 03, 2016

The Unsparing Confessions of ‘‘Giovanni’s Room’’ - Colm Tóibín

This piece is drawn from the introduction to a new edition of ‘‘Giovanni’s Room,’’ by James Baldwin, which is out from Everyman’s Library, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Group, on March 1st. Read Edwidge Danticat on ‘‘Go Tell It on the Mountain.’’

James Baldwin’s essay “The Discovery of What It Means to Be an American,” published in 1959, deals with the fate of being an American as viewed from exile in Paris. Baldwin begins this piece by quoting Henry James directly: “It is a complex fate to be an American,” then goes on:
America’s history, her aspirations, her peculiar triumphs, her even more peculiar defeats, and her position in the world . . . are all so profoundly and stubbornly unique that the very word “America” remains a new, almost completely undefined and extremely controversial proper noun. No one in the world seems to know exactly what it describes, not even we motley millions who call ourselves Americans.

No comments: