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No Name in the Street (1972)

de James Baldwin

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452356,218 (4.13)26
This stunningly personal document and extraordinary history of the turbulent sixties and early seventies displays James Baldwins fury and despair more deeply than any of his other works.In vivid detail he remembers the Harlem childhood that shaped his early consciousness, the later events that scored his heart with painthe murders of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, his sojourns in Europe and in Hollywood, and his return to the American South to confront a violent America face-to-face.… (més)
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Es mostren totes 3
This is one of Baldwin’s non-fiction works. It is the first of Baldwin’s books I have read.

In most books, it may be hard to know which of the characters are white and which are black. We are generally not told this. We assume that most are white, or at least I do.

But Baldwin is mostly occupied with black people, and always tells us who are black and who are white, if any.

He is concerned about black people, whom he feels are not really regarded as people, at least in America.

He writes about black Americans, like himself.

At the beginning of the book Baldwin writes about his childhood. He was terrified of “the man we called my father”.

He did not understand him until he was “past understanding”.

His father’s mother, Barbara, lived with them; she was born in slavery. She was so old that she never moved from her bed. She loved James and used to scold her son for the way he treated him.

He knew that she would always protect him with all her strength.

James’ mother was always in the hospital, having another baby.

All the children were “absolutely and mercilessly united against our father”.

His father was a preacher and had “unreciprocated love for the Great God Almighty”.

I don’t understand that James wrote “unreciprocated”, indicating that God did not love his father. Perhaps no-one else loved him but God surely did. After all, God is Love.

He tells us that his father went mad and ended in the “madhouse”.

Baldwin discusses Martin Luther King and his death and also mentions Malcolm X.

It is important to point out that the copyright for this book was in 1972, i.e. it was written many years ago.

Baldwin went to Paris in 1948; since he had no money he lived among “les misérables”, and in Paris these are or were the Algerians.

When in Paris a second time. B found that all the Algerians he had known had disappeared. He heard that they had been placed in camps and were being tortured and murdered there.

They were also being murdered in the streets or dropped into the Seine.

Police were on every street corner, sometimes with machine guns. Anyone in Paris suspected of being Algerian, for example, Turks, Greeks, Spaniards, American blacks and Frenchmen from Marseilles or Nice were under constant harassment.

He hadn’t purposely gone to Paris but merely went there to get away from America.

In Paris he was completely alone. He lived there for a long time without making a single French friend. This total indifference came as a great relief and even as a mark of respect.

Baldwin’s “green”, presumably American, passport proclaimed that he was “a free citizen of a free country” and was not therefore to be treated as “one of Europe’s uncivilized black possessions”.

This same passport in the USA proclaimed that he was a “domestic n-----”.

Baldwin returned home in 1957 and eventually went South.

When he went South, he felt as though he had wandered into hell. What struck him was “the unbelievable dimension” of the people’s sorrow.

He says: “I have more faith in Southerners than I would ever have in Northerners.” “It is in the South and not in the North that the rebirth will begin.”

Baldwin writes absolutely what he means/feels. He tells us that “white Americans are probably the sickest and certainly the most dangerous people of any color, to be found in the world today”.

I found Baldwin to be vastly intelligent and intellectual but also wonderful at expressing his emotions in detail.

I have never previously experienced such a great writer as Baldwin, with such wonderful powers of expression.

This is a stimulating book. Not being American and not having visited the U.S., I cannot say how much of what Baldwin writes is relevant today, though I would think it all is in one way or another.

I highly recommend the book, which made a strong impression on me. ( )
  IonaS | Jun 13, 2023 |
I sympathize with the African American's experience, but it's hard to relate or to know what to do about it. Racism is alive and well in the U.S. ( )
  FBGNewbies | Apr 20, 2021 |
51. [462760::No Name in the Street] by [[James Baldwin]]
published: 1972
format: 123 pages inside [323902::Collected essays]
acquired: December 2018
read: Oct 15-18
time reading: 5 hr 39 min, 2.8 min/page
rating: 5

While not Baldwin‘s best essay collection (see [The Fire Next Time]), this is a favorite for me. It‘s melancholy, an end of an era book. Baldwin writes about the assassinated (Medgar Evers, MLK, Malcom X and others), the incarcerated (Huey Newton, etc), and about his failed attempt to make a movie on Malcolm X (his script was the basis of the 1990‘s movie). By 1971 the beaded hippie era has faded, and their failure reflects in other American failures.

To some extend Baldwin is continuing his usual themes—attacks on the the lunacy of American conservatives, the American south, the inauthenticity of American liberals (his main readers?). Add Hollywood. But he had met, spoken with, debated with all these lost heroes of the Civil Right era and sees it all as a failure and as both a national and personal loss. America is still sick and in denial. Trump would not surprise him. It‘s a slow, single essay mulling on this, with an intense and powerful conclusion that still very relevant. Glad to have read it.

2019
https://www.librarything.com/topic/312033#6947096 ( )
1 vota dchaikin | Apr 18, 2020 |
Es mostren totes 3
What is important about Baldwin's essays is the style and eloquence with which he evokes the torment and human devastation of American racism and his ability to make us feel, if only momentarily, that redemption is possible.

In "No Name in the Street," Baldwin's prose is often mesmerizing and, though they seem less shocking and disturbing now, there are passages that are as candid, insightful and moving as any in his previous essays.
afegit per danielx | editaNew York Times, Mel Watkins (Feb 10, 1972)
 
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His remembrance shall perish from the earth, and he shall have no name in the street: he shall be driven from light into darkness and chased out of the world.

JOB 18: 17 - 18
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For Berdis Baldwin

and

Beauford DeLaney

and

Rudy Lombard

and Jerome

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Yet, hope—the hope that we, human beings, can be better than we are—dies hard; perhaps one can no longer live if one allows that hope to die. But it is also hard to see what one sees. One sees that most human beings are wretched, and, in one way or another, become wicked; because they are so wretched. And one's turning away, then, from what I have called the welcome table is dictated by some mysterious vow one scarcely knows one's taken—never to allow oneself to fall so low. Lower, perhaps, much lower, to the very dregs; but never there.
It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.
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This stunningly personal document and extraordinary history of the turbulent sixties and early seventies displays James Baldwins fury and despair more deeply than any of his other works.In vivid detail he remembers the Harlem childhood that shaped his early consciousness, the later events that scored his heart with painthe murders of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, his sojourns in Europe and in Hollywood, and his return to the American South to confront a violent America face-to-face.

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