Skip to content

Critical Insights: James Baldwin

Although James Baldwin today holds a secure position in the canon of twentieth-century literature, more than twenty years after his death he still remains one of America's most illusive authors. An eloquent writer who wanted to be more than just "a Negro novelist," he nevertheless became one of the country's most prominent African American leaders when Time magazine emblazoned his image across its cover in 1963. The body of his work-six novels, a handful of short stories, and five major essay collections along with three plays and a book of poetry-is wide-ranging, complex, and occasionally contradictory, the product of a mind in a tireless dialogue with itself and its paradoxical and swiftly changing culture.

This volume in the Critical Insights series brings together a wide variety of insightful and provocative essays on Baldwin's novels, short stories, essays, and plays. Topics include the many varieties of homelessness that Baldwin-a sometime expatriate always at odds with mainstream American culture- embodied in his work and his life, how Baldwin's flight to Paris in 1948 influenced two of his most important essays, "Everybody's Protest Novel" and "Preservation of Innocence", and a comparative analysis of the depiction of faith in works by Baldwin, Phillis Wheatley, Tananarive Due, and Octavia E. Butler.

Start here