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PDF in Harlem one Saturday in March of 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 Go Tell It On The Mountain James BaldwinGo Tell It on the Mountain is a 1953 semi autobiographical novel by James Baldwin It tells the story of John Grimes an intelligent teenager in 1930 s Harlem and his relationship to his family and his church The novel also reveals the back stories of John s mother his biological father and his violent religious fanatic stepfather Gabriel GrimesGo Tell It On The Mountain is Baldwin s first major work a semi autobiographical novel that has established itself as an American classic With lyrical precision psychological directness resonating symbolic power and a rage that is at once unrelenting and compassionate Baldwin chronicles a fourteen year old boy s discovery of the terms of his identity as the stepson of the minister of a storefront Pentecostal church in Harlem one Saturday in March of 1935 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 Go Tell It On The Mountain James Baldwin New York a Signetbook 1953 1332 191 Pages 1974 20

review Go Tell It on the Mountain

Go Tell It on the Mountain

Ng symbolic power and a rage that is at once unrelenting and compassionate Baldwin chronicles a fourteen year old boy's discovery of the terms of his identity as the stepson of the minister of a storefront Pentecostal church Go Tell Religion Race Gender Sexuality That is a powerful strong cocktail mix of a story for sure sung as a mourning prayer or a long orgasmic sensation In the character of Gabriel all that is abusive hypocritical and evil in Christianity is united in one patriarchal god copy He ranges with the worst priests in Dostoevsky s dark universe of punishment and suffering he resembles the preacher in Elmer Gantry s style who scares his family and congregation with his vivid descriptions of sin leading to eternal burning in hell for everyone except for himself the worst sinner of all who allows himself to find a sign from a conveniently lenient god that says he is saved despite all while all the rest are lost and most of all the women who suffer for his sake Angry he made me Gabriel Somewhat surprisingly so as I thought I was beyond that kind of fury at the brutal injustice of men playing god s henchmenAnd yet the novel is beautiful It is full of strong and honest people Like Florence who won t bow to the power of unjust violent men And there is Elizabeth who is scared and alone but knows that she would choose her passionate love over the petty dominance of god any time And there is John who looks for a supernatural father as a substitute for the real one that he can t reach Beyond my anger and rage reading of everyday racism violence misogyny and abuse in the name of religion I see clearly what makes Christianity such a powerful tool in the hands of those who know how to use it While despriving people of their natural pleasure in sexuality without guilt the religious ecstacy offers an effective substitution While depriving people of euality and fairness and freedom of choice in this life the religious hope for an ever so undefined afterlife offers the sweet thought of future vengeance for those who suffer now While depriving poor people of the power to claim their rights religion offers an idea of a last judgment speaking for them after they have struggled through life without support or securityChristianity takes away pleasure and dignity and holds them as carrots in front of the believers who keep running after them in the hope of catching them until they collapse in exhaustion after a long run on a narrow path of suffering in silenceI can t help hoping for something else though to set these characters free and to save them A thought experiment what would happen to Christianity if we took away the sin from any consensual sex between grown upsGabriel wouldn t have had to fall back on preaching and beating his way through life to prove he is saved He wouldn t have been lost in the first place Provided he treated his fellow human beings with the respect they are entitled to he might actually have felt good about himself every once in a while He might not have pushed a young pregnant woman to leave and die in pain He might have felt responsible for his first son He might have embraced John and made John s mother happy All kinds of things might have happened if he hadn t been driven simultaneously by a natural desire and a taught fear of sinningBut taking away sin from sex would make preachers less powerful Making sex a mutual agreement between two grown ups would make it less of a tool in the giant patriarchal powerhouse and it would put some pressure on men to be kind and caring to women So I can see why it is worthwhile to keep preaching Even if it makes the preacher fear and suffer occasionally as wellGo Tell It On The Mountain That Humanity Is BornThis novel is like an earthuake Read it and feel shaken

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Go Tell It on PDFEPUB #236 It On The Mountain first published in is Baldwin's first major work a semi autobiographical novel that has established itself as an American classic With lyrical precision psychological directness resonati When I was vacationing in Chicago recently I went to a used bookstore and saw some James Baldwin books I ve heard many good things about him so I decided to get this book an old paperback edition not the white one pictured above for 5The next morning flipping through my stack of newly purchased books I noticed to my amazement that this book was signed And signed For Jimmy Unbelievable For Jimmy or be that James Peace James Baldwin So I felt like it was fate that brought this book into my hands this book which had as its subject matter fate So what could it mean What is the universe trying to tell me Am I looking at a double fucking rainbow The distant gramophone stuck now suddenly on a grinding wailing sardonic trumpet note this blind ugly crying swelled the moment and filled the room She looked down at John A hand somewhere struck the gramophone arm and sent the silver needle on its way through the whirling black grooves like something bobbing anchorless in the middle of the sea p 219What I love about this book and what I feel a lot of people reviewing this book on Goodreads have misinterpreted about it is that this book does not have an agenda on race religion class violence or sexuality This book is about these things but they are never in the driver s seat because the characters are The characters are the glue between the interconnectedness of race and religion and class and violence and sexuality and they show how out of these things arises an insurmountable complexity an ambiguous amorphous blob of feelings It is precisely the ability to live within the complexity of these feelings instead of reducing it into the simplicity of judgement that great writers are great By the end of this book the reader feels just as ambiguous about God as the characters do Is the thing that happens at the end a good or a bad thing It is neither rather it is a complicated mess of feelings that cannot be untied into good or badIf you understand how complex things are in the real world it is hard not to feel empathy for those who must live it That is why the characters are also neither good nor bad They are human and thus imperfect Baldwin is a master at inhabiting their headspaces filling out the history of each character so completely and humanely that it is hard not to feel empathy for each character even the ones that have done awful things In fact the whole book is an exercise in empathy and that is in my opinion the highest aim for any artist Of course I haven t even touched on the attention and uality of the actual words that make up his sentences Here is a sample excerpt Note how the lyrical rhythm drives the narrative and vice versa Also note how he tells than shows thus dismantling the show don t tell adage which was never a good rule anyway except for those aiming for mediocrity which seems to be all we re willing to aim for these daysGod was everywhere terrible the living God and so high the song said you couldn t get over Him so low you couldn t get under Him so wide you couldn t get around Him but must come in at the doorAnd she she knew today that door a living wrathful gate She knew through what fires the soul must crawl and with what weeping one passed over Men spoke of how the heart broke up but never spoke of how the soul hung speechless in the pause the void the terror between the living and the dead how all garments rent and cast aside the naked soul passed over the very mouth of Hell Once there there was no turning back once there the soul remembered though the heart sometimes forgot For the world called to the heart which stammered to reply life and love and revelry and most falsely hope called the forgetful the human heart Only the soul obsessed with the journey it had made and had still to make pursued its mysterious and dreadful end and carried heavy with weeping and bitterness the heart alongAnd therefore there was war in Heaven and weeping before the throne the heart chained to the soul and the soul imprisoned within the flesh a weeping a confusion and a weight unendurable filled all the earth Only the love of God could establish order in this chaos to Him the soul must turn to be deliveredBut what a turning How could she fail to pray that He would have mercy on her son and spare him the sin born anguish of his father and his mother And that his heart might know a little joy before the long bitterness descendedSPOILER ALERTFor those who criticize the end of the book for its conveniencebelievability I think what Baldwin is getting at here is that the conversion is not a willful choice Johnny does not choose to be converted Of course the conversion is hard to believe for skeptics of religion but I think you have to go in with the attitude that Baldwin himself is skeptical of religion but he is also a believer at least on some level ie he might not believe religion is always a force for good but he damn well believes that it is a force Whether you believe it is the holy spirit or the atmosphere or voodoo does not matter things like this do happen and the fact that Johnny s whole life has been steered in this direction doesn t help It is almost like his own reluctance is no match for the fate of all the history that has brought him to this point in timeIt is also brilliant how the conversion is shown in this light where it wavers between a joyous event and a thing that is inevitable like a well set trap down a long dark road that has no good end This ominousness goes along with the joy and tempers it makes it such a great ambiguous ending You get a sense that this is just the beginning of a long hard journey for John


10 thoughts on “Go Tell It on the Mountain

  1. says:

    When I was vacationing in Chicago recently I went to a used bookstore and saw some James Baldwin books I've heard many good things about him so I decided to get this book an old paperback edition not the white one pictured above for 5The next morning flipping through my stack of newly purchased books I noticed to my amazement that this book w

  2. says:

    “There are people in the world for whom coming along is a perpetual process people who are destined never to arrive” ― James Ba

  3. says:

    A coming of age tale about race religion and endurance Go Tell It on the Mountain sketches a nuanced portrait of a single Black family struggling to survive in Harlem John is the fourteen year old ueer stepson of a self righteous minister Friendless and strange looking the boy wants nothing than to escape his

  4. says:

    Jail or ChurchAt age 14 I had a similar epiphany to that of James Baldwin I too realised that my parents were only human beings and that their fallibility left me vulnerable to the world If I were to survive it would have to be on t

  5. says:

    Religion Race Gender Sexuality That is a powerful strong cocktail mix of a story for sure sung as a mourning prayer or a long orgasmic sensation In the character of Gabriel all that is abusive hypocritical and evil in Christianity is united in one patriarchal god copy He ranges with the worst priests in Dostoevsky's dark

  6. says:

    It's John's 14th birthdayhis family would forget without his mentioning it It's a Sunday Every Sunday the Grimes family walks to church where his father is deacon It's not the biggest or largest church but John was brought up to believe it was the holiest and best Everyone had always said John would be a preacher

  7. says:

    3 to 35Go Tell It on the Mountain is a very powerful book and I can tell why it is on many must read lists Overall the way it was written was easy to get into and the journey into each specific character was interesting The focus of the plot is religion and the hypocrisies around it that the author had experienced in his life So know that fact going in if you prefer to avoid mixing religious commentary into your readingWith the paragraph ab

  8. says:

    Go Tell It On The Mountain James BaldwinGo Tell It on the Mountain is a 1953 semi autobiographical novel by James Baldwin It tells the story of John Grimes an intelligent teenager in 1930's Harlem and his relationship to his family and his church The novel also reveals the back stories of John's mother his biological father and hi

  9. says:

    He gives me music in words and I fall for

  10. says:

    More mystical readable than the other biggie of Harlem literature Invisible Man the tale told here is like a prism that breaks up into different lights different lives filled to the brim with hardship The Grimes

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