Sunday, May 18, 2003

James Baldwin Go Tell It on the Mountain published 50 years ago today

First posted 1/4/2021.

Go Tell It on the Mountain

James Baldwin

First Publication: May 18, 1953

Category: semi-autobiographical novel

Sales: ?

Accolades (click on badges to see full lists):

About the Book:

“In one of the greatest American classics,” AZ James Baldwin unfurls a story “with lyrical precision, psychological directness, resonating symbolic power, and a rage that is at once unrelenting and compassionate.” AZ James “Baldwin said of his first novel, ‘Mountain is the book I had to write if I was ever going to write anything else.’” AZ

The semi-autobiographical story focuses on teenager John Grimes in Harlem in the 1930s and the “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.” AZ

The novel reveals back stories of John’s parents, including his “violent, religious fanatic stepfather” WK and the “role of the Pentecostal Church in the lives of African-Americans as a negative source of repression and moral hypocrisy and also as a positive source of inspiration and community.” WK

“The rhythm and language of the story draw heavily on the language of the Bible…Many of the passages use the patterns of repetition identified by scholars such as Robert Alter and others as being characteristic of Biblical poetry.” WK

Resources and Related Links:

In July 2018, I became the organizer of the Classic Novels Book Club. Check out the Book Club tab here or Meetup for more information. This is our February 2021 book.