Saturday, 30 April 2016

GOING TO MEET THE MAN - JAMES BALDWIN


MICHAEL JOSEPH
FIRST PRINTING 1965
LONDON
COVER ART BY DAVID BATTLE

As a novelist, an essayist and a playwright, James Baldwin has proved himself a writer of beautiful and powerful prose. In Going To Meet The Man it is possible for the first time to read a collection of his short stories, a collection which can only add to his stature.
Although it is not Baldwin's aim in writing fiction to be an apologist of the Negro cause, nor of any cause other than that of literature, the racial conflicts which are tearing at the lives of so many Americans today are never far from the surface. The traditions of Negro and white are forcefully evoked and examined, and the pain which the author feels at the plight of his fellow Negroes never once blurs his deep compassion for the frailties of mankind.
Running through his stories like a theme is the role of inherited prejudices in shaping man's destiny. There is the child in The Rockpile who can never be forgiven by his God-fearing father for his illegitimacy; the child in This Morning, This Evening, So Soon who has grown up in France, free of guilt that his father and mother are of different colours, but who will be brought to awareness of this fact when his parents return with him to the States; the child in Sonny's Blues who learns to understand his father through being told of the death of an uncle he never knew; and, in a horrifying finale, the man in Going To Meet The Man whose hatred has its roots in a scene from his boyhood where his parents and other white people watch with jubilation the mutilation and lynching of a Negro 'criminal'.

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