This study is about the central place of the emotional world in Beckett's writing. Stating that Beckett is ‘primarily about love’, it makes a re-assessment of his influence and immense popularity. The book examines numerous Beckettian texts, arguing that they embody a struggle to remain in contact with a primal sense of internal goodness, one founded on early experience with the mother. Writing itself becomes an internal dialogue, in which the reader is engaged, between a ‘narrative-self’ and a mother.
A Review of Hilton Als’ God Made My Face: A Collective
Portrait of James Baldwin
This essay reviews Hilton Als’ 2019 exhibition God Made My Face: A
Collective Portrait of James Baldwin at the David Zwirner Gallery.
The show visually displays Baldwin in two parts: “A Walker in the
City” examines his biography and “Colonialism” examines
“what Baldwin himself was unable to do” by displaying the work of
contemporary artists and filmmakers whose works resonate with Baldwin’s
critiques of masculinity, race, and American empire. Mirakhor explores how
Als’ quest to restore Baldwin is part of a long and deep literary and
personal conversation that Als has been having since he was in his teens, and in
this instance, exploring why and how it has culminated via the visual, instead
of the literary. As Mirakhor observes, to be in the exhibit is not to just
observe how Als has formed and figured Baldwin, but to see how Baldwin has
informed and made Als, one of our most lyrical and impassioned contemporary
writers and thinkers.
Black Queer Feminism and the Sexual Politics of Another Country
This essay explores Black queer feminist readings of the sexual politics of James Baldwin’s Another Country. Recent work at the intersection of queer of color critique and Black feminism allows us to newly appreciate Baldwin’s prescient theorization of the workings of racialized and gendered power within the erotic. Previous interpretations of Another Country have focused on what is perceived as a liberal idealization of white gay male intimacy. I argue that this approach requires a selective reading of the novel that occludes its more complex portrayal of a web of racially fraught, power-stricken, and often violent sexual relationships. When we de-prioritize white gay male eroticism and pursue analyses of a broader range of erotic scenes, a different vision of Baldwin’s sexual imaginary emerges. I argue that far from idealizing, Another Country presents sex within a racist, homophobic, and sexist world to be a messy terrain of pleasure, pain, and political urgency. An unsettling vision, to be sure, but one that, if we as readers are to seek more equitable erotic imaginaries, must be reckoned with.
A Hollywood Love Story (as Written by James Baldwin)
D. Quentin Miller
Baldwin’s The Devil Finds Work (1976) has proven challenging since its publication because readers and critics have trouble classifying it. The challenge may be related to a common feature of Baldwin criticism, namely a tendency to compare late career works to early ones and to find them lacking: the experimental nature of later works of nonfiction like No Name in the Street (1972), The Devil Finds Work, and The Evidence of Things Not Seen (1985) does not square easily with the more conventional essays that made Baldwin famous in his early years. I attempt to reframe The Devil Finds Work not through a comparison to other Baldwin essays, but rather through a comparison to his fiction, specifically the novel Giovanni’s Room. I posit that a greater appreciation for Devil can result from thinking of it as a story, specifically the story of a failed love affair.
From the time of his early adolescence until his death, traveling was one of, if not the,
driving force of James Baldwin’s life. He traveled to escape, he travelled to discover,
and he traveled because traveling was a way of knowing himself, of realizing his
Go Tell It on the Mountain sheds light on James Baldwin’s response to his Pentecostal religious inheritance. Baldwin writes protagonist John Grimes’s experience of “salvation” as an act of his own break with his past and the inauguration of a new vocation as authorial witness of his times. This break is premised on the experience of kairos, a form of time that was derived from Baldwin’s experience of Pentecostalism. Through John Grimes’s experience, Baldwin represents a break with the past that begins with the kairotic moment and progresses through the beginnings of self-love and the possibility of freedom enabled by this love. This essay contributes a new perspective on discussions of Baldwin’s representation of time and his relationship to Christianity.
James Baldwin’s arrest in Paris in December 1949 gave birth to his perfect storm. His ten days in Fresnes jail weakened him physically and emotionally. He made it out, but upon release he was mired in self-doubt and enveloped in a bout of depression. He returned to his hotel, ready to try to get back to his life, however daunting that effort would be. The hotelier’s demand that he settle his bill, and do it quickly, awakened his obsession with suicide. He simply could not handle one more obstacle in his path; he chose to kill himself in his room. Ironically, he saved his life when he jumped off a chair with a sheet around his neck. In a matter of seconds his death wish was replaced by his equally obsessive need to write, witness, think, party, drink, challenge, and love.
James Baldwin’s Pragmatist Politics in
The Fire Next Time
Courtney D Ferriter
In The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin argues that the American dream is far from being a
reality in part because there is much Americans do not wish to know about themselves.
Given the current political climate in the United States, this idea seems just as timely
as it did in the 1960s. Baldwin’s politics and thinking about race and religion are
informed by an optimistic belief in the human capacity to love and change for the better,
in contrast with Ta-Nehisi Coates, the heir apparent to Baldwin’s legacy. Considering
current events, it seems particularly useful to turn back to The Fire Next Time. Not only
does Baldwin provide a foundation for understanding racism in the United States, but more
importantly, he provides some much-needed hope and guidance for the future. Baldwin
discusses democracy as an act that must be realized, in part by coming to a greater
understanding of race and religion as performative acts that have political consequences
for all Americans. In this article, I examine the influence of pragmatism on Baldwin’s
understanding of race and religion. By encouraging readers to acknowledge race and
religion as political constructs, Baldwin highlights the inseparability of theory and
practice that is a hallmark of both pragmatism and the realization of a democratic
society. Furthermore, I argue that Baldwin’s politics provide a more useful framework than
Coates’s for this particular historical moment because of Baldwin’s emphasis on change and
This article considers James Baldwin’s last published novel, Just Above My Head (1979),
as the culmination of his exploration of kinship, reflecting on the ways distance and loss
characterize African-American familial relations. By analyzing Baldwin’s representation of
Hall Montana’s relationship to, and mourning of, his younger brother Arthur, this article
argues that JAMH revises the terms of the black family to imagine an alternative, errant
kinship that is adoptive, migratory, and sustained through songs of joy and grief. My
approach to the novel’s portrayal of kinship is indebted to Édouard Glissant’s Poetics of
Relation (1990), in which he defines “errantry” as a fundamental characteristic of
diaspora that resists the claustrophobic, filial violence and territorial dispossession
that are slavery’s legacies. Baldwin represents errant kinship in JAMH through his
inclusion of music and formal experimentation. Departing from previous scholarship
that reads JAMH as emblematic of the author’s artistic decline, I interpret the
novel’s numerous syntactic and figurative experiments as offering new formal insight into
his portrait of brotherly love. Baldwin’s integration of two distinctive leitmotifs, blood
and song, is therefore read as a formal gesture toward a more capacious and migratory