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The story of my childhood is the usual bleak fantasy, and we can dismiss it with the restrained observation that I certainly would not consider living it again." So begins James Baldwin's autobiographical note to his essay collection came out.Even so, he told a friend that he thought it was too early in his life for a "memoir." Baldwin wrote elegantly and honestly and passionately about race relations in America, and he did so from a lofty perspective, both self-aware and world-wise.
' I do not know why, after a year of such rebuffs, I so completely failed to anticipate his answer, which was, of course, 'We don't serve Negroes here.' This reply failed to discompose me, at least for the moment.
I made some sardonic comment about the name of the diner and we walked out into the streets." And chaos followed.
"Journey to Atlanta" is but one of a hundred examples in .
What also comes across, again, is how optimistic James Baldwin was about himself, his world, black people.
It was a movie about the German occupation of France, starring Maureen O'Hara and Charles Laughton and called .
I remember the name of the diner we walked into when the movie ended: it was the 'American Diner.' When we walked in the counterman asked what we wanted and I remember answering with the casual sharpness which had become my habit: 'We want a hamburger and a cup of coffee, what do you think we want?The first consists of three critical essays: one about the protest novel, generally, and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin specifically; another about Richard Wright’s Native Son, and the last about the film, Carmen Jones.The second part of the book is the most journalistic and anecdotal.I love America more than any other country in the world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.I think all theories are suspect, that the finest principles may have to be modified, or may even be pulverized by the demands of life, and that one must find, therefore, one's own moral center and move through the world hoping that this center will guide one aright.“Carmen Jones: The Dark is Light Enough” is a film analysis, while “Everybody’s Protest Novel” and “Many Thousands Gone” are examples of literary criticism.What all the essays share is incisive cultural analysis.One of his challenges was to define what it meant to be a "native son": I know, in any case, that the most crucial time in my own development came when I was forced to recognize that I was a kind of bastard of the West; when I followed the line of my past I did not find myself in Europe but in Africa.And this meant that in some subtle way, in a really profound way, I brought to Shakespeare, Bach, Rembrandt, to the stones of Paris, to the cathedral at Chartres, and to the Empire State Building, a special attitude. Something like this, anyway, has something to do with my beginnings. We apologize for any inconvenience, and thank you for your visiting. I began plotting novels at about the time I learned to read.