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James Baldwin : Collected Essays : Notes of a Native Son / Nobody Knows My Name / The Fire Next Time / No Name in the Street / The Devil Finds Work / Other Essays (Library of America) Hardcover – February 1, 1998


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James Baldwin : Collected Essays : Notes of a Native Son / Nobody Knows My Name / The Fire Next Time / No Name in the Street / The Devil Finds Work / Other Essays (Library of America) + James Baldwin: Early Novels and Stories: Go Tell It on a Mountain / Giovanni's Room / Another Country / Going to Meet the Man (Library of America) + Blues for Mister Charlie: A Play
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Product Details

  • Series: Library of America (Book 98)
  • Hardcover: 869 pages
  • Publisher: Library of America (February 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1883011523
  • ISBN-13: 978-1883011529
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,719 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Writer James Baldwin earnestly championed the civil rights movement in both his fiction and nonfiction, a fact which, coupled with his extraordinary writing talent, assured not only his historical importance, but also his place as one of the finest African American writers of his generation. Collected Essays is a comprehensive collection of his most memorable prose, including "Stranger in the Village," "The Harlem Ghetto," and "Many Thousands Gone." Clear in voice and vision, the essays communicate the emotions of an entire historical movement. Combining politics, prophecy, and passion, Baldwin's essays are truly as thought-provoking today as they were some 30 years ago.

From Publishers Weekly

Baldwin's impassioned essays have been at least as influential as his novels in exposing the racial polarization of American society. This massive compilation reproduces in their entirety his early essay collections?Notes of a Native Son (1955), Nobody Knows My Name (1961), The Fire Next Time (1963)?as well as his later, less successful book-length essays?the pessimistic, doom-laden No Name in the Street (1972) and The Devil Finds Work (1976), a semi-autobiographical gloss on American movies. The book charts his trajectory from eloquent voice of the civil rights movement to disillusioned expatriate increasingly prone to grandiloquence and angry rhetoric. Also included is a miscellany of 36 articles, polemics and reviews, 26 of which were previously collected in The Price of the Ticket (1985), published just two years before Baldwin's death from cancer in France at age 63. Novelist Morrison's editing of this omnibus, which includes a chronology and notes, should help rekindle interest in Baldwin, whose recurrent themes?the African American search for identity, the hypocrisy of white America, the urgent necessity for love?make his work timely and challenging. BOMC and Reader's Subscription selections.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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I appreciate his unique, idiosyncratic diction and phrasing.
Philip Vassallo
I don't know why this happens, but James Baldwin was right - absolutely right when he said that this reassessment, which can be very painful is also very valuable.
Charlotte A. Hu
The Library of America series are good collections that are meant to be read many times, by many people--these books hold up very well.
"efoff"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By "efoff" on February 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I love James Baldwin--I think he's a tremendous writer, so Toni Morrison could hardly go wrong in selecting essays for this volume. All of the selections are excellent. Notes of a Native Son contains a touching eulogy for Richard Wright ("Alas, Poor Richard"), explaining the lonliness and problems Mr. Wright had at the end of his life. Baldwin displays his tremendous range as both a political commentator and a literary critic. The Devil Finds Work, in particular, is very insightful--and several parts humourous.
What I don't understand--and why I struck a star off this collection--is why Ms. Morrison did not include "Evidence of Things Unseen," Baldwin's analysis of the Atlanta child murders from the early eighties. Perhaps Library of America is planning later volumes of Baldwin's works--The companion volume to these essays is his "Early Novels," most notably "Go Tell It on the Mountain" and "Giovani's Room." I can't imagine that Library of America would not produce a volume including Mr. Baldwin's later works--especially "Just Above my Head."
This particular edition is well worth having--despite the price. First, this is a good collection of Baldwin's essays, many of which are difficult to find. Second, the Library of America really does a commendable job in paper quality and binding. This is not a leather bound edition on 50 pound paper, so stiff you can't open it and printed so the back binding looks impressive on your bookshelf--this is tightly bound, cardboard cover that lies flat, and is easy to read. The paper is not heavy--but acid free, and tear resistant. The Library of America series are good collections that are meant to be read many times, by many people--these books hold up very well.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 6, 1999
Format: Hardcover
A beautiful, powerful and passionate book that deserves a place in the library, to be returned to time and again. Baldwin is a polemicist of rare quality, inspiring with the quality of his argument and prose. The Library of America has packaged this work, like its others, in a fine quality, sturdy edition (notice how many times I mentioned quality?).
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31 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Charlotte A. Hu on October 10, 2001
Format: Hardcover
In Egypt, I met an extraordinary American.
"I was born in New York, but have only lived in pockets of it. In Paris, I lived in all parts of the city - on the Right Bank and on the Left, among the bourgeoisie and among les miserables, and knew all kinds of people from pimps and prostitutes in Pigalle to Egyptian bankers in Nueilly. This may sound unprincipled or even obscurely immoral: I found it healthy. I love to talk to people, all kinds of people, and almost everyone, as I hope we still know, loves a man who loves to listen," he said.
"The perpetual dealing with people very different from myself caused a shattering in me of preconceptions I scarcely knew I held. This reassessment, which can be very painful, is also very valuable."
His name is Mr. Baldwin, and I cherish this new acquaintance because his ideas have had such profound impact on my views of Egypt. I wanted to know the people, but as I reach out for them, sometimes, I'm shocked by what I see. I see people sleeping on the concrete patios along the Nile - many of them have migrated from the farmlands because they can make more money for their families if they work in Cairo. But desert nights can be bitter cold in January, and it cuts my heart. Yet, Mr. Baldwin's message is well heeded. The same problems of inner city growth that come with development in Egypt also came with development in Britain one hundred years ago. American inner city schools and slums still reflect this challenge.
Would I have walked into the slums of Chicago if I were there? Would I have strolled through the southwest side of Kansas City or east St. Louis? Would I have walked into the anti-developing city blocks of L.A. if I were in America? Of course not. So why is it that traveling abroad opens my eyes to poverty in America?
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Michael Saltzman on June 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
A lot of reviewers have talked about owning this book if you are distinctly interested in collecting works by black authors or in black studies. I think that this book is an essential element to anyone's library, in particular people interested in the craft of writing. Toni Morrison calls Baldwin the greatest essayist of the 20th century and I couldn't agree more.

In this collection of essays, it becomes clear that Baldwin has truly perfected the craft of the essay. Not only is Baldwin's content, his concepts of honesty and truth, of light and dark, right and wrong, of white and black, and much more straight up revolutionary, but he manages to have his content reflected in the craft and style of each essay, which should really be the goal of all writers.

More than anything, Baldwin has an exquisite ability to reveal a complex truth in a simple concise way. All of these essays, indeed all of Baldwin's works, have one common thread. And that is that TRUTH is found within contradiction, because contradiction is honest. I think anyone who browses this page should immediately try and at least check this out of their libary (though it's definitely worth owning, every time I reread it I discover new things) because it really will effect you in meaningful ways.
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