As a teacher, I read this book for one of our reading lists to make an objective test, the novel itself would never be taught. I had anticipated that it would be a boring book that simply retold the story of Invisible Mas or The Interesting Narrative of Oloudah Equiano, stories about the suffering of African Americans. Though I find that topic interesting, I think that no author has done done it justice like James Baldwin has done. As an English major, when reading African American narratives, I awlays get the main point but feel as though I've read the same novel again and again. This particular book has given me a new perspective. It makes me wonder if there is something different in a "black" spirit than in a "white" spirit. I have always considered black people the same as white people, but Bladwin's story makes me wonder if there isn't something different. The children of the characters in the novel are strong willed, more so than in any novel about whites I have read. Their spirit seems unconquerable, which would make sense given that they survived slavery. Each character in this is strong and derives their strength from their color, perhaps in spite of it. As someone who views and treats black people as equals, this is the first novel that made me consider that there is, in fact, something different between the races because of race. Not necessarily a bad thing, but something inside us from waking up and looking in the mirror everyday and having to live as a different color.
My favorite Baldwin book. It takes us through time from the rural South to the northern ghetto as it contrasts the attitudes of two generations of an African-American family,
Details Johnny Grimes road to salvation in 1930s Harlem under rule of his abusive and fanatical father, whose pwn road to salvation bears many flaws. James Baldwin is always an excellent writer--this one lagged in parts, but is still very gripping.
This is an angry book.
Told through a series of interconnected flashbacks at an overnight prayer service in post-WWI Harlem, "Go Tell it on the Mountain" peels back the veneer of righteousness of a deacon in a black holiness church, and reveals instead of a life of godliness a life of anger, hatred, adultery, and sin that has poisoned the lives of everyone around him, the most egregious ruination coming in the years after the preacher (Gabriel) ostensibly left his dissolute life of sin and became a respected man of the cloth.
The book deals with race, but in a despairing voice, as black characters revile one another the character John admires his mother, but considers her powerless against his fathers brutality, and that appears to be the warmest he feels toward anyone and hope for the future is cut off by these destructive dynamics, curtailed by white society, or severely limited by a God whose love is talked about but never seen.
Baldwin is one of several black authors Ive been reading this year. Ill be reading more of him.
Reading this book has increased my understanding of Harlem life for the little black kid John. Baldwin's minutely detailed descriptions of a black family are now marked on my memory forever. I think about that family and the portion that each member brought to the book's table.
As so well explained by Baldwin, the spirit of God is felt in widely differing ways. The culture that Baldwin's Harlem family is steeped in has formed John's view so vividly that I can SEE his dilemma: ..."John could not bow before the throne of grace without first kneeling to his father. On his refusal to do this had his life depended, and John's secret heart had flourished in its wickedness until the day his sin first overtook him."
I like Baldwin's style of writing. In this novel, I found him a little hard to keep up with, though the story was great and the characters were very real.
It is the end of 19th century rural South; the early years of the 20th century in New York City. This is a story of black America, of evangelism, of revivalism, of racism at its worst; of a people caught up in a struggle for daily existence in a society straining for change that will occur only too slowlymaybe not at all. Heavy at times on "Praise the Lord" and the concept of sin and forgiveness, you may envision some comparison to Sinclair Lewis' Elmer Gantry. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but after reading it there will be no doubt that Baldwin in one of the greatest writers of his time.
Does anyone need to write reveiw of this book? It is a great book, a classic.