[Reading] ➸ Notes of a Native Son By James Baldwin – Kairafanan.co

Since Its Original Publication In , This First Nonfiction Collection Of Essays By James Baldwin Remains An American Classic His Impassioned Essays On Life In Harlem, The Protest Novel, Movies, And African Americans Abroad Are As Powerful Today As When They Were First Written Back Cover


10 thoughts on “Notes of a Native Son

  1. says:

    Any writer, I suppose, feels that the world into which he was born is nothing less than a conspiracy against the cultivation of his talent James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son James Baldwin was a fascinating and eloquent man, one who I would have loved to have had a conversation with His insights into racial issues are truly phenomenal.This is a collection of short essays about Baldwin s experience with race In the first three essays Baldwin critiques various books and movies on black culture that he believes do the race a disservice In the 1950s when black representation was relatively low in both literature and film, I would assume that most black people would have been glad just to see themselves in print and on film however, Baldwin talks about how misrepresentation is just as damaging as non representation I admire him a lot for that.The other essays go into the black experience in the States and in Europe One thing he said about his experiences in a small village in Switzerland was truly profound I thought of white men arriving for the first time in an African village, strangers there, as I am a stranger here, and tried to imagine the astounded populace touching their hair and marveling at the color of their skin But there is a great difference between being the first white man to be seen by Africans and being the first black man to be seen by whites The white man takes the astonishment as tribute, for he arrives to conquer and to convert the natives, whose inferiority in relation to himself is not even to be questioned whereas I, without a thought of conquest, find myself among a people whose culture controls me, has even, in a sense, created me, people who have cost me in anguish and rage than they will ever know My favourite essay in this book was probably the titular one, Notes of a Native Son It was heartbreaking and touching I ve read Go Tell it on the Mountain and I detested Baldwin s father However, after reading this essay, my perception has changed a little I still found the father unlikeable but now I m appreciating how difficult it must have been for a black man, an authoritative one trying to raise his family in a society in which all his hard work accounts for next to nothing, a society in which he is the king at home and is considered a boy in the white world I could tell that Baldwin was trying to understand and forgive his father, and let go of his anger it was truly touching I did not want to see him because I hated him But this was not true It was only that I had hated him and I wanted to hold on to this hatred one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, that they will be forced to deal with pain Very powerful essays.


  2. says:

    This is my 3rd James Baldwin book this year.first time as an audiobook Notes of A Native Son , is a great intro into other books Baldwin has written These notes are a collection of essays written when Baldwin was in his 20 s during the 1940 s and early 50 s It was fascinating learning about Baldwin as a young man and his experiences being Black in America through the civil rights movement and steps forward His memories about unfairness is piercing I felt his bitterness then re visited my sadness of injustice when Baldwin wrote SPOKEN LOUDLY on the audiobook Black is a terrible color in which to be born into this world James Baldwin writes beautiful He covers complicated themes. racism in America Traditions for the black man isolation within the black community He talks about his attempts to better understand his father whom he had a strained relationship with Search for identity and pride is an ongoing battle Rigorous significant relevant issues James Baldwin articulates what it means to be a Black American and be an American giving insight about the truth and struggles and how shameful these truths have been Timeless and Tremendous


  3. says:

    Powerful and precise as all of the essays are, Baldwin hits his stride with the titular piece, in which he embeds personal meditations on his father s death into a social analysis of the Harlem riot of 1943 and race relations in America There s nothing else quite like it in the collection, though the essays about Paris in the third and final section are almost as brilliant.


  4. says:

    To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious, is to be in a rage almost all the time So that the first problem is how to control that rage so that it won t destroy you. James Baldwin from The Negro in American Culture , Cross Currents, XI 1961 , p 205In his dramatic and provocative short piece Notes of a Native Son 1955 included in the ten essay volume of the same title, Baldwin connects a series of coincidental events, unifying them in a brilliantly conceived aesthetic design Segmented in three parts, he reviews an act of rage against a waitress in a restaurant his father s death and his sister s birth a race riot in Harlem, his father s burial and his 19th birthday I In order really to hate white people one has to block so much out of the mind and the heart that this hatred becomes an exhaustive and self destructive pose. Baldwin examined parallels between his younger, unenlightened self and his father s characteristic of garnering the enmity of many with his often unchecked fury An experience of discrimination in a New Jersey restaurant ignited Baldwin s already building rage, leading him to throw a water pitcher at a waitress Suddenly frightened by what he had done, he fled the scene, later speculating I could not get over two facts, both equally difficult for the imagination to grasp, and one was that I could have been murdered But the other was that I had been ready to commit murder I saw nothing very clearly but I did see this that my life, my real life was in danger, and not from anything other people might do but from the hatred I carried in my own heart II I imagine that one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, that they will be forced to deal with pain. July 29th, 1943 The coincidence of his sister s birth, the same day as the death of his father a man who was, to Baldwin, certainly the most bitter man I have ever met, whom he considered was poisoned by the intense loathing, fear and cruelty he carried in him diagnosed with mental illness and later tuberculosis symbolically shaped in Baldwin s mind the death of an old toxic bitterness and the forming of an untainted, new beginning, to forgive and accept life and death so close together, and love and hatred, and right and wrong Ironically, his father s simple words echoed with posthumous meaning, that bitterness is folly III Harlem had needed something to smash To smash something is the ghetto s chronic need. August 3rd, 1943 As if God himself had devised it , the day that marked his 19th birthday, the day his father was returned to the earth, a race riot roiled in Harlem Ghetto members vented their anger, fought one another, destroyed and looted in directionless, hopeless bitterness , leaving smashed glass and rubble as spoils of injustice, anarchy, discontent and hatred These events deeply affected Baldwin who upon reflection sought a change from ill will to good, to let go the demons and darkness that threatened to consume him the hatred, bitterness, rage, violence, disillusionment, the social problems perpetuated by being Negro in America It was necessary to hold on to the things that mattered The dead man mattered, the new life mattered blackness and whiteness did not matter to believe that they did was to acquiesce in one s own destruction Hatred, which could destroy so much, never failed to destroy the man who hated and this was an immutable law. As a writer, Baldwin depended greatly on his past experiences, grasping at every bittersweet drop I think that the past is all that makes the present coherent, and further that the past will remain horrible for exactly as long as we refuse to assess it honestly Whether by coincidence or divine making, Baldwin s reflection on those fateful few days was spiritual, cleansing, revelatory, life saving From it germinated a new philosophy and idealism that lingered strongly and eternally, nourishing a poetic power and sustaining a literary genius for many years hence First read February 27th, 2014


  5. says:

    I am what time, circumstance, history, have made of me, certainly, but I am, also, much than that So are we all Better known for works such as Go Tell It on the Mountain, James Baldwin s Notes of a Native Son published 2 years later in 1955 is an important collection of essays which highlights issues Baldwin would continue to address Subjects of his essays include his own home life, life in Harlem, the inequities of separate but equal treatment of blacks in 1940s and 50s America as well as his own experiences in France after WWII I am what time, circumstance, history, have made of me, certainly, but I am, also, much than that So are we all You can not describe anything without betraying your point of view, your aspirations, your fears, your hopes Everything Baldwin s prose still resonates and is relevant today I find myself wanting to read and Baldwin


  6. says:

    Around this time last year friend Rowena and I did a buddy read of this collection of Baldwin essays It wasn t the first Baldwin book that I d read, but it was the first book of his non fiction It was also the first book that I ve read that made me feel SHAME for being a white man The full weight of my race s mistreatment of African Americans became personal in the light of Baldwin s writing It doesn t matter that I was born six years after the Civil Rights Act, that I never owned slaves or participated in Jim Crow there is plenty for which I m responsible in that inheritance of malfeasance that is made manifest many times without me even being aware it is happening.After we finished the tandem read Rowena asked me here on GR if I planned on writing a review The story is that I did write a review a couple of drafts, in truth but after reading what I wrote everything just sounded to my ears like the tinny braying of a white man s take on something he could never understand So I ended up shredding those thoughts and posted nothing Now, after a year reflection on the texts and a background of tense race relations in the USA, I decided to pick this volume up again and give it another read Baldwin s words are iodine in wound necessary to those of us privileged to be born white, male, American and affluent I didn t get to choose the circumstances of my birth, just like Baldwin didn t So just what is my responsibility to that inheritance that feels like a lodestone Here s what Baldwin says in his preface to the 30th anniversary edition to this work My inheritance was particular, specifically limited and limiting my birthright was vast, connecting me to all that lives, and to everyone, forever But one cannot claim the birthright without accepting the inheritance.Therefore, when I began seriously to write when I knew that I was committed, that this would be my life I had to try to describe that particular condition which was is the living proof of my inheritance And at the same time, with that very same description, I had to claim my birthright I am what time, circumstance, history, have made of me, certainly, but I am, also, much than that So are we all That is beautiful a sentiment written in 1984, three years before Baldwin s death I wonder what Baldwin would have to say, had he lived to be 90 and published a new preface in 2014 commemorating the 60th anniversary of this work his country lead by an African American President elected twice, no less but also suffering through the shit shows of Michael Brown and Eric Garner Absent this, I m happy to have this rich volume of essays that remind me many times the best thing is to just listen.


  7. says:

    Society, it would seem, is a flimsy structure, beneath contempt, designed by and for all the other people, and experience is nothing than sensation so many sensations, added up like arithmetic, give one the rich, full life.I already know that I love James Baldwin s fiction Giovanni s Room and If Beale Street Could Talk so I am not surprised to feel similar about this collection of essays But, this being a collection, of course there was an uneven appreciation as compared to a complete, cohesive work Notes of a Native Son are essays from the beginning of Baldwin s career he divides the text into three main groupings literary criticism, blackness, and identity These are rough groupings, I know, but it helps you realize how different Everybody s Protest Novel, which is an A lit crit essay on Uncle Tom s Cabin from Notes of a Native Son, the title essay on his father Each section contains several essays the titular essay Notes of a Native Son is likely the strongest in the pack Yet, as always, Baldwin s craftsmanship as evident in his sentence structure astounds me I have never read anyone like Baldwin before.And as the introduction aptly puts it, the fiction offered a person of enormous humanity The essays offered a man, a neighbor, or, yes, an older brother. You need to read some nonfiction to have the full perspective towards Baldwin s novels.


  8. says:

    This collection of essays is a rarity by the fact that every essay is as good as the previous one There are no duds in this collection This is by far one of the best collections I ve ever read Baldwin s prose is just so astoundingly beautiful I may be premature in saying this but I feel that this may be Baldwin s greatest work A collection so important, so accessible, so unforgettable that not reading this would be an injustice to you and your bookshelf.


  9. says:

    Scorching per usual with Baldwin.The first essays feature criticism analysis of the arts, quite interesting but not my favorite part of the book.The essays on his father particularly devastating, sad, insightful and living in France were my favorites Deeply powerful, moving essays His experience with the French justice system l affaire du drap de lit is completely surreal but believable, the epitome of kafkaesque It is terrifying, he gets sucked into the blackhole of the French prison system because he is wrongly suspected of stealing a bed sheet Baldwin weaves in some brilliant humor into this essay, although he is always making serious points through out Maybe as a French person I found his observations even funnier, but they struck me as pretty accurate and interesting Plus Baldwin has a great knack for interweaving comedic jabs into his serious observations ideas The matter of fact observation pointing out the old man permanently standing next to the communal toilet eating camembert struck me as particularly hilarious because it was so dryly noted and I was like that is so ridiculous it has to be true Can t get us Frenchies away from our damn camembert even in the vortex of prison Baldwin writes with power, precision, perception, coupled with brutal honesty He crafts and explains his ideas and thinking so well, I love his imagery and flips of language and turns of phrase His writing is never showboaty although it is extremely finely crafted, no matter how fancy he gets it always serves his purpose in getting a point across his skill allowing him to zero in on the heart of his themes ideas with highest degree of nuance and perception He drills deep down on subjects, amazingly perceptive and startling ability to unravel the complex It s sad to know how much pain he suffered, he alludes to the monumental fury and anger he tried to keep tamped down because if he allowed that dam to burst those things would have destroyed him from the inside out The anger is counterbalanced by his high degree of wit and razor burning sarcasm His on point observations on race, identity, white supremacy, the human condition, cultural societal analysis remain highly relevant to our age Cannot wait to read of his work.


  10. says:

    I simply could not relate to the writing style of this book I found it pedagogical, overly verbose, and repetitive.I found James Baldwin nihilistic i.e depressing I know there are good reasons for this racism Also, I found the writing impersonal, being lectured to from on high.I have not read Uncle Tom s Cabin but as the book was written so long ago it stands to reason that it would be anachronistic I have read Native Son by Richard Wright and found the analysis by James Baldwin overly analytical a meandering dissertation.I likely agree with some of what was written it was the academic and ponderous tone that deterred me.