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May 15, 2017


Go Tell It On The Mountain

by N@ncy


  1. James Baldwin’s  first major work and semi-autobiographical novel.
  2. Title:   Go Tell It on the Mountain  is  inspired by the spiritual hymn.
  3. Setting: Harlem, New York, in 1935
  4. Timeline: starts and ends on John’s 14th birthday
  5. Backround:
  6. Baldwin was  the stepson of a preacher,
  7. and Baldwin later preached from the pulpit himself.
  8. The troubled relationship between father (Gabriel) and son (John)  in the text
  9. …is drawn from Baldwin’s actual life.
  10. Baldwin uses ‘the church’ as a source for many of his works.
  11. Theme: identity – Baldwin writes for a group, African Americans
  12. Theme: redemption – each family member  ‘falls’ through sin and temptation
  13. but ‘rises’ through some form of redemption.
  14. Theme: the church – Baldwin shows the reader that the
  15. church is a source of repression and moral hypocrisy
  16. …but also hope, identity, and community.


  1. This is James Baldwin’s first book.
  2. It was his big literary breakthrough and  is
  3. ….an impressive achievement for
  4. who is only about 27-29 years old at the time.
  5. The book is filled with biblical allusions.
  6. Yet we must remember Baldwin’s
  7. ….best writing was yet to come.
  8. His greatest achievements will appear in the 1960’s
  9. …during the Civil Rights Movement in USA.
  10. I was very impressed by my first reading of
  11. …James Baldwin  The Fire Next Time (1963).
  12. If you haven’t read it….you should.
  13. Make yourself a cup of coffee…you can read it in an afternoon.
  14. It is just 128 pages.

Last thoughts:

  1. Some parts captured my attention more than others.
  2. Push through part 1 the book just keeps getting better.
  3. Part 2 is The “Prayers of the Saints” section of this book is told mostly in flashback.
  4. But it returns periodically to the real setting of the story.
  5. Elizabeth’s Prayer was my favorite part of the book, beautiful.
  6. Part 3 starts out as  John’s almost delirious conversion experience.
  7. Baldwin uses the stream-of-consciousness technique.
  8. Strong point: the reader is  given a very powerful ending.
  9. John has discovered the secrets that are making his family act the way they do.
  10. He recognizes that the brutality and cruelty he and his mother experience
  11. ..result of the anger and hatred that family members feel.
  12. Bravo, James Baldwin.
5 Comments Post a comment
  1. May 20 2017

    I have been reading a bit about James Baldwin recently and wanting to read something that he wrote. This sounds like a good start. I will add it to my classics list, not that I am doing that well on reading classics.

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 21 2017

      If you really want to get an impression of Baldwin I’d suggest The Fire Next Time (128 pg) just to show you that his ideas in 1963 haven’t changed much in the USA. It is better than his first book ‘Go Tell It On The Mountain.’ You won’t be disappointed! Also there is an Oscar prize 2017 for the documentary about Baldwin that is a #MustSee ‘I’m Not Your Negro” 🙂



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