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Black Skin, White Masks Paperback – September 10, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

Review


“A strange, haunting mélange of analysis, revolutionary manifesto, metaphysics, prose poetry and literary criticism—and yet the nakedest of human cries.” —Newsweek

“A brilliant, vivid and hurt mind, walking the thin line that separates effective outrage from despair... As a writer he demonstrates how insidiously the problem of race, of color, connects with a whole range of words and images. . . . Yet it is Fanon the man, rather than the medical specialist or intellectual, who makes the book so hard to put down.” —Robert Coles, The New York Times Book Review

“A reasoned, explosive, and important book centered on the identity problem of the black man, by the author of a classic study of racism and colonialism, Wretched of the Earth.” —Publishers Weekly

“This book should be read by every black man with a desire to understand himself and the forces that conspire against him.”—Floyd McKissick, former national director, CORE

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 206 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Revised edition (September 10, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802143008
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802143006
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

82 of 84 people found the following review helpful By Elijah Chingosho on February 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
Frantz Fanon was a black man born in the French colony and island of Martinique. He trained as a doctor specialising in psychiatry. He was deeply concerned about the impact of colonialism on the people of colour, particularly how it humiliated them, destroyed their culture, values and dignity. This led him to get involved in the Algerian war of independence in the 1950s.

The book "Black Skin, White Masks" was written almost fifty years ago. This was during the time when decolonisation of the African continent and elsewhere was gathering momentum.

To adequately capture and assimilate Fanon's thinking of the question of colonialism and racism and their impact on the coloured people, one also needs to read Fanon's other great works: "The Wretched of the Earth" and "Dying Colonialism". Here one can see his anger and the background to his conclusion that it was only through violence that people of colour could liberate themselves from colonialism, particularly from mental bondage and inferiority complex that accompanied colonial subjugation.

In "Black Skin, White Masks", Fanon develops his thesis about the impact of inferiority complex of subjugated peoples and the alienation of some of them from their kind resulting in their wish to identified with the colonialists or imitate the European. There are a number of celebrated and classic cases of coloured people who have tried various formulas to change the colour of their skins, the tone of their voices or their names so that they sound more civilised (European).

Fanon's ideas about how the coloured people can liberate themselves (physically and mentally) influenced many leaders of revolutionary movements that were fighting colonialism.
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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By likami on February 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
frantz fanon's black skin, white mask has something for every reader of every color (including white). his insights into the psychological damage resulting from colonialism, self-denial, racism, and other connected phenomena provide a path for those of us still grappling with these issues some forty years after the publication of this text. moreover, his intellectual contributions are secondary to the compelling force of his personality and integrity that one senses between the lines. this book is as compelling as a novel and as englightening as a mentor.
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60 of 70 people found the following review helpful By nadav haber on September 12, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fanon's amazing book is one of the landmarks in modern thinking, as far as I am concerned. Fanon says he wants to expose the sickness in order for it to be cured. He exposes the sickness inflicted on Africans by the contact with the colonizing white West in a razor sharp accuracy and courage. Fanon is completely honest, sparing no criticism from the Africans nor the Europeans. He gets help from giant figures like Cesaire and Senghor, and creates an emotionally and intellectually charged masterpiece.
I learned from Fanon about the use of language as a colonialist tool, the terrible affect on African self esteem, the psychological turmoil that erupts as a result of the contact with white society.
It is clear the world is not the same today as it was in the 50's, but Fanon's book is just as relevant.
Quoting from Sartre talking about another book by Fanon: "Have the courage to read this book !".
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 26, 1998
Format: Paperback
This publishing of this treatise saw the roots of Black Consciousness expand outside the limits of Negritude. More clearly at the time, Fanon began his transformation from 'European intellectual' to polemic scholar to socialist revolutionary that would culminate in the release of Les Damnees de la Terre and Fanon's tragic death due to leukemia. Black Skin, White Masks, however, may in fact be the most enduring of Fanon's work, and it reads as well today as it did in 1953. Upon its completion, Fanon became a cult icon in French intellectual circles, rubbing shoulders with Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Bouvoir, among others. It is not difficult to see why; from the first page, Fanon emotes his most heartfelt anger. It is a work as passionate as it is intelligent, and as concise as it is dynamic. Through it all, the reader is treated to Fanon's magnificently fluid writing style, brilliantly translated by Constance Farrington.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By seansamad@hotmail.com on December 6, 1998
Format: Paperback
This book was remarkable in helping me to confirm some of the many behaviors that I had observed among family and friends, but was unable to pin down or understand. Fanon has incredible insight into the effect of colonialism onthe self-concept and consecutive behaviors of the Caribbean individual and all balck people and culture that has been forever changed by the penetration of European culture and ideology.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J. C. Jeanty on April 28, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book has provided me with a tremendous sense, not only as a black person, but an educated minority having difficulty managing the world of white and black. The more I've progressed academically and professionally, the more I felt marginalized by both peoples, particular by other blacks. After a recent haranguing experience with a former co-worker, I decided I had enough and began reading on what it means to be black to be refute such nonsense. And this book provided in ways I could not have possibly expected.

The first aspect of critical importance was, what I felt Fanon's exploration of the psychology of being black, both male and female. Males pathologic plight lies in his desire to self-actualize and be seen as a man while women's plight derives from the need to be financial secure and to have assurance that her offspring will be not only taken cared of but in a socio-economic position higher than hers. Because of which, have incentives to go "white." Fanon indentifies the problem to be an economic issue at its root, and the epidermalization of inferiority at its core. The black intellectual is a special case, alienated by his fellow men adopted the vernacular and behavior of whites only to further push him from his people. Worse is the consciousness that the other culture (whites) did not fully accept you as their own, for the simple reason that you were "of a different kind." This was an ugly pathologic death spiral that would lead first to him hating all other blacks then me hating his self. On all account, this describes my very own psychology, and the general tone of so many blacks I've come across.

Second critical theme of this book was its exploration at all the "solutions" to the plight of blacks, usually espoused by blacks themselves.
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