Read ✓ Giovanni's Room 102

Giovanni's Room

Characters Giovanni's Room

Les histoires d'amour tourmentées et douloureuses d'un jeune Américain à Paris dans les années 50 La sincérité et l'audace av. God Giovanni's Room is heart breaking I've been avoiding reviewing it a bit because it boils so much to the surface No summary or review could do this book total justice What Baldwin achieves is a desperate account of two gay or bisexual men struggling with their sexuality their society and most importantly their identities identities which are at once masculine and yet deprived of that masculinity by their complicity with a society that doesn't understand them Baldwin's artistry is formulating a novel about same sex love that isn't an absurdly supportive utopia nor a bland coming out story see all LGBT literature most of which is aimed at young adults and is stylistically reflective of that audience Giovanni's Room is the dusk to EM Forster's dawn in Maurice Baldwin's real achievement is to make his story universal The love between Giovanni and David is not a homosexual love or same sex love it's just love and Baldwin tells us that is all love needs to be to be real Perhaps it is the effect of reading Barthes that I find myself disdainful towards the self bulwarking of gay otherness newspaper stories which send the overt message of gays can do it too actually serve to reinforce that gays are something other than normal Those stories do not change the perception that gays cannot but rather reinforce it by providing the exception to the rule A little 'confessed' evil saves one from acknowledging a lot of hidden evil' By admitting the small prejudice you allow the larger prejudices to grow disproportionately Baldwin refuses to let his novel be about gay men in love and instead makes it about two people in love The closest comparison I can find in my literary repertory is The Age of Innocence which I think is an apt sister novel to Baldwin's Restrained by a rigged society and his engagement to the fair Hella David must give up his true passion for Giovanni But it is so much the worse ending for Giovanni than Ellen Olenska while Ellen lives a supposedly fulfilling life in Paris Giovanni rapidly descends to corruption self loathing and death If you cannot love me I will die Before you came I wanted to die I have told you many times It is cruel to have made me want to live only to make my death bloody David's role in Giovanni's life is not that of a passive lover he and Giovanni share something real a true kinship which David cannot feel for Hella and which Giovanni cannot bear to lose I find significance in the names of the three lovers David Hella and Giovanni David is from the Hebrew for beloved and he is mutually beloved by Hella and Giovanni though he largely resents those loves first Hella's then Giovanni's He feels as burdened by their loves as he does by the constraints of appearances and by society and so he can never be truly happy he can never truly relish in the love of another because he cannot bear to the the object of affection only the subject David is profoundly selfish and profoundly evasive to the attention he receives He paradoxically wants love but cannot bear the responsibilities that go with it In the Bible David is much loved by God but his sexual transgressions with Bathsheba bring hate and misfortune to him Baldwin's David likewise betrays Hella and the war between his compunction and his survival instinct ruin what life remains for him Giovanni is gone Hella is gone what remains of his life is a homelessness if in fact home is where the heart is and an emptiness He is inconsolably lost he is haunted by the past that remains inside him but also by the past which has escaped him People who remember court madness through pain the pain of the perpetually recurring death of their innocence; people who forget court another kind of madness the madness of the denial of pain and the hatred of innocence; and the world is mostly divided between madmen who remember and madmen forget David manages to be doubly the madmanHella derived from Helga though with the unavoidable echo of Hell means ironically blessed What is she blessed with She is naive and insecure she is alternatively too timid and too bold to find love with David She chooses a long engagement and spends that time alone in Spain rather than in Paris with David Hella reminds me very much of James' innocents abroad and for that reason I find her being blessed only by way of her avoiding the ultimate corruption of David's black heart Her blessing seems to her like a curse but ultimately we feel she is far better off alone than she would be had she tied the know with our narrator a man so confused and self loathing he is incapable of loving anyone For David he knows that life with Hella would be a Hell to him it would be to chain him to something less than love something like friendship but which would block him forever from his true passion His love for Giovanni has made love for Hella impossible and marriage to her would be a constant reminder of what he has lostGiovanni is a derivative from the Hebrew for God's Gift and he is a blessing to David Giovanni shows David what love is capable of being what it means to find love and solace in another human on this Earth But David cannot accept this gift He grows hateful of it It is not love or deference for Hella which makes David give up Giovanni but his own blindness and self hatred He is not deserving of Giovanni's love and it makes us hateful to ourselves even the most selfish of us to receive something in the name of our merits when we have not lived up to those merits Those undeserved gifts are a constant reminder of our inadeuacies and instead of raising us up they tear us asunder from the inside out Giovanni is the gift of real freedom the freedom of choice the gift that God bestowed on man For nothing is unbearable once one has it than freedom David cannot bear the responsibility of choice particularly the choice between a precarious bliss with Giovanni and an assured unhappiness with Hella

Characters ↠ PDF, DOC, TXT, eBook or Kindle ePUB free ✓ James Baldwin

A Chambre de Giovanni l'un des premiers et plus beaux livres de James Baldwin était resté introuvable pendant plus de vingt cin a. WowI read only one review of this bookwhich was soooo goodI immediately bought a used copyyet I don't think 'any' review prepares a reader for what they are about to experience I have two words Morally Mystifying THANK YOU Lizzy I stayedand I 'was' granted this masterpiece Petits desserts au Nutella vingt cin a. WowI read only one review of this bookwhich was soooo goodI immediately bought a used copyyet I don't think 'any' review prepares a reader for what they are about to experience I have two words Morally Mystifying THANK YOU Lizzy I stayedand I 'was' granted this masterpiece

James Baldwin ✓ 2 Download

Ec lesuelles James Baldwin décrit le trouble émotionnel de David déchiré entre Giovanni et Hella font de ce livre un classiue L. ‘i scarcely know how to describe that room it became in a way every room i had ever been in and every room i find myself in hereafter will remind me of giovannis room’ simply beautiful simply heartbreaking simply realthis would probably be a 3 star read if it hadnt been for moments of such elegant prose i love love love the way JB describes human emotions and feelings particularly love and affection but the overall narrative which reminds me very much of the type of storytelling used for all books published before 1980 is not my favourite but i do appreciate some aspects of the writing and im uite impressed with the content which is the heart of this novel↠ 35 stars Chic, du chocolat ! very much of the type of storytelling used for all books published before 1980 is not my favourite but i do appreciate some aspects of the writing and im uite impressed with the content which is the heart of this novel↠ 35 stars


10 thoughts on “Giovanni's Room

  1. says:

    ”He grasped me by the collar wrestling and caressing at once fluid and iron at once saliva spraying from his lips and his eyes full of tears but with the bones of his face showing and the muscles leaping in his arms and neck ‘You want to leave Giovanni because he makes you stink You want to despise Giovanni because he is not afraid of the stink of love You want to kill him in the name of all your lying moralities And you you are immoral You are by far the most immoral man I have met in all my life Look look what you have done to me Do you think you could have done this if I did not love you? Is this what you should do to love?’” James Baldwin in HarlemDavid is an American living in Paris attempting to find himself His girlfriend Hella is in Spain taking some time to think about whether she wants to commit the rest of her life to David Meanwhile David is out of funds and his father is willing to let him starve a bit in the hopes that he will come home He is after all getting a bit old pushing thirty to still be looking for himself There is this legitimate fear that he will never find himself and if that is the case he might as well come home and rejoin the real world of marriages careers and cocktails He meets Giovanni not because he is looking for someone but because he is paying the price of borrowing money from Jacues an old lecherous American business man who will lend you money but it will cost you time entertaining him with your presence and your conversation Hopefully you are not so desperate that it will cost you even Jacues finds Giovanni attractive and hopes that David can convince the young man to have a drink with them The best laid plans of salacious old men rarely bear fruit They have to be patient and wait for the specter of starvation to land them a pliable playmate This is one of those times when it all backfires on Jacues but he will continue to spin a web and wait for a bobble in finances After all Paris is an expensive city and with so many young men on the verge of destitution he only has to wait for a tug on one of his many sugared threads David goes home with Giovanni ”I was trembling I thought if I do not open the door at once and get out of here I am lost But I knew I could not open the door I knew it was too late; soon it was too late to do anything but moan He pulled me against him putting himself into my arms as though he were giving me himself to carry and slowly pulled me down with him to that bed With everything in me screaming No yet the sum of me sighed Yes”Giovanni’s Room comes to define David’s whole Parisian experience ”The table was loaded with yellowing newspapers and empty bottles and it held a single brown and wrinkled potato in which even the sprouting eyes were rotten Red wine had been spilled on the floor it had been allowed to dry and it made the air in the room sweet and heavy But it was not the room’s disorder which was frightening it was the fact that when one began searching for the key to this disorder one realized that it was not be found in any of the usual places For this was not a matter of habit or circumstance or temperament; it was a matter of punishment and grief” James Baldwin in ParisDavid is astute enough to recognize that this is not just a fling for Giovanni but a true attempt to not only find love but to also escape the past the present and an increasingly gloomy looking future ”I understood why Giovanni had wanted me and had brought me to his last retreat I was to destroy this room and give to Giovanni a new and better life This life could only be my own which in order to transform Giovanni’s must first become part of Giovanni’s room”David operating with a safety net can afford to have an “unnatural” fling after all he is in France not America but for Giovanni this is a heart and soul relationship As David dances around his own desires and the realization that he must eventually straighten up and become a devoted member of heterosexual America it becomes increasingly difficult to know what to do about Giovanni ”The beast which Giovanni had awakened in me would never go to sleep again; but one day I would not be with Giovanni any And would I then like all the others find myself turning and following all kinds of boys down God knows what dark avenues into what dark places?”Hella like a lifeboat on the horizon writes to say she has made her choice She is coming back to Paris to be with David Elation and dread suddenly tinge the unraveling of all of his loosely conceived relationshipsUnder the guise of some bizarre logic David decides he must be with a woman as if to create a demarcation line between Giovanni and Hella It doesn’t really matter what woman just a woman The lucky winner is Sue but David doesn’t get away without a dagger of remorse pricking his darkening soul ”’Maybe you’ll be lonely again’ she said finally ‘I guess I won’t mind if you come looking for me’ She wore the strangest smile I had ever seen It was pained and vindictive and humiliated but she inexpertly smeared across this grimace a bright girlish gaiety as rigid as the skeleton beneath her flabby body If fate ever allowed Sue to reach me she would kill me with just that smile”I’ll leave the rest to you fair reader There are twists and turns and the fates of many rest on the resolve of one man and whether he can be honest about his own nature The Elegant Mr James BaldwinJames Baldwin’s publisher gave him some advice in regards to this manuscript He felt he must “burn the book because the theme of homosexuality would alienate him from his readership among black people” Fortunately he was wrong Critics thank goodness were kind to the book because of Baldwin’s reputation and status as a writer Sure this book makes the list of best gaylesbian books ever written but it also makes the list of many BEST BOOKS ever writtenI’m going to come out of the closet and say I’m a heterosexual male although why I’m not sure except that I’m just wired that way The same way that the various sexually self designated people are wired to be attracted to a multitude of diversely sexually oriented people To say this is a gay novel certainly is not an attempt to denigrate the book but it does seem to limit the scope of the vision There is viciousness lust loneliness deception sorrow tenderness despair and ultimately tragedy that makes this book easily one of the top 100 best books I’ve ever read Every reader will find something of themselves in this book maybe not the part of themselves that they want to hold up to the mirror but certainly a fragment disdainful in nature or worthy of pity that can not be denied This really should be my second or third reading of this novel but somehow it has been on my radar and fallen off my radar numerous times over the years A helpful nudge from John Irving in his book In One Person convinced me that I needed to uit dawdling and read this book The Paris of the 1950s doesn’t exist any but luckily for you and I it is still vibrantly alive in the pages of this book If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews visit also have a Facebook blogger page at


  2. says:

    God Giovanni's Room is heart breaking I've been avoiding reviewing it a bit because it boils so much to the surface No summary or review could do this book total justice What Baldwin achieves is a desperate account of two gay or bisexual men struggling with their sexuality their society and most importantly their identities identities which are at once masculine and yet deprived of that masculinity by their complicity with a society that doesn't understand them Baldwin's artistry is formulating a novel about same sex love that isn't an absurdly supportive utopia nor a bland coming out story see all LGBT literature most of which is aimed at young adults and is stylistically reflective of that audience Giovanni's Room is the dusk to EM Forster's dawn in Maurice Baldwin's real achievement is to make his story universal The love between Giovanni and David is not a homosexual love or same sex love it's just love and Baldwin tells us that is all love needs to be to be real Perhaps it is the effect of reading Barthes that I find myself disdainful towards the self bulwarking of gay otherness newspaper stories which send the overt message of gays can do it too actually serve to reinforce that gays are something other than normal Those stories do not change the perception that gays cannot but rather reinforce it by providing the exception to the rule A little 'confessed' evil saves one from acknowledging a lot of hidden evil' By admitting the small prejudice you allow the larger prejudices to grow disproportionately Baldwin refuses to let his novel be about gay men in love and instead makes it about two people in love The closest comparison I can find in my literary repertory is The Age of Innocence which I think is an apt sister novel to Baldwin's Restrained by a rigged society and his engagement to the fair Hella David must give up his true passion for Giovanni But it is so much the worse ending for Giovanni than Ellen Olenska while Ellen lives a supposedly fulfilling life in Paris Giovanni rapidly descends to corruption self loathing and death If you cannot love me I will die Before you came I wanted to die I have told you many times It is cruel to have made me want to live only to make my death bloody David's role in Giovanni's life is not that of a passive lover he and Giovanni share something real a true kinship which David cannot feel for Hella and which Giovanni cannot bear to lose I find significance in the names of the three lovers David Hella and Giovanni David is from the Hebrew for beloved and he is mutually beloved by Hella and Giovanni though he largely resents those loves first Hella's then Giovanni's He feels as burdened by their loves as he does by the constraints of appearances and by society and so he can never be truly happy he can never truly relish in the love of another because he cannot bear to the the object of affection only the subject David is profoundly selfish and profoundly evasive to the attention he receives He paradoxically wants love but cannot bear the responsibilities that go with it In the Bible David is much loved by God but his sexual transgressions with Bathsheba bring hate and misfortune to him Baldwin's David likewise betrays Hella and the war between his compunction and his survival instinct ruin what life remains for him Giovanni is gone Hella is gone what remains of his life is a homelessness if in fact home is where the heart is and an emptiness He is inconsolably lost he is haunted by the past that remains inside him but also by the past which has escaped him People who remember court madness through pain the pain of the perpetually recurring death of their innocence; people who forget court another kind of madness the madness of the denial of pain and the hatred of innocence; and the world is mostly divided between madmen who remember and madmen forget David manages to be doubly the madmanHella derived from Helga though with the unavoidable echo of Hell means ironically blessed What is she blessed with? She is naive and insecure she is alternatively too timid and too bold to find love with David She chooses a long engagement and spends that time alone in Spain rather than in Paris with David Hella reminds me very much of James' innocents abroad and for that reason I find her being blessed only by way of her avoiding the ultimate corruption of David's black heart Her blessing seems to her like a curse but ultimately we feel she is far better off alone than she would be had she tied the know with our narrator a man so confused and self loathing he is incapable of loving anyone For David he knows that life with Hella would be a Hell to him it would be to chain him to something less than love something like friendship but which would block him forever from his true passion His love for Giovanni has made love for Hella impossible and marriage to her would be a constant reminder of what he has lostGiovanni is a derivative from the Hebrew for God's Gift and he is a blessing to David Giovanni shows David what love is capable of being what it means to find love and solace in another human on this Earth But David cannot accept this gift He grows hateful of it It is not love or deference for Hella which makes David give up Giovanni but his own blindness and self hatred He is not deserving of Giovanni's love and it makes us hateful to ourselves even the most selfish of us to receive something in the name of our merits when we have not lived up to those merits Those undeserved gifts are a constant reminder of our inadeuacies and instead of raising us up they tear us asunder from the inside out Giovanni is the gift of real freedom the freedom of choice the gift that God bestowed on man For nothing is unbearable once one has it than freedom David cannot bear the responsibility of choice particularly the choice between a precarious bliss with Giovanni and an assured unhappiness with Hella


  3. says:

    CONTAINS SPOILERSA great novel The word “ferocious” comes to mind when I think of the intensity of several keys scenes in the novel where the main character a gay man in Paris struggles to turn against his gay orientation and tries to find happiness with a woman he has pledged to marry The novel published in 1956 is considered a classic of gay literature Several key scenes that vividly impart to the reader that intensity of feeling are when he leaves his male lover when his female lover learns his secret and leaves him and when his ex lover encounters an exploitative bar owner Giovanni is not the name of the main character but of his male lover The two major tensions in the story we know from the start and they flavor everything that follows in the novel the impending execution of Giovanni by guillotine and the return of his woman friend from Spain The main character intends to marry the woman and end his gay relationship He’s in Paris to “find himself” a phrase he writes is uncommon in other languages and implies something is misplaced The main character had an early sexual experience with a young man back in the US that has shamed and frightened him for life We read lines like this “For shame That I should be so abruptly so hideously entangled with a boy” Such were the times that all the gay male characters in the novel joke among themselves about having women or going back to women almost as if they are all still afraid of fully coming out even before their gay companions There are customs back in 1956 that I would have thought were developed recently for example when a group of young gay men gather in the bar they refer to each other as “she”Baldwin is a master at portraying the tiny but significant looks and gestures that go around at a meeting of a half dozen people in bar eating oysters and drinking white wine I wrote a similar thing about John O’Hara in his Appointment in SamarraThere’s good writing “I thought she would be fun to have fun with” “I did not owe an awful lot of money only around six thousand francs but Parisian hotel keepers have a way of smelling poverty and then they do what anybody does who is aware of a bad smell; they throw whatever stinks outside”“My fatherwanted me to come home as he said and settle down and whenever he said that I thought of the sediment at the bottom of a stagnant pond”“I remember that life in that room seemed to be occurring beneath the sea Time flowed past indifferently above us; hours and days had no meaning”“You don’t have a home until you leave it and then when you have left it you can never go back” It’s helpful to know basic French even though most of the phrases in French can be understood in contextThe author Baldwin was a gay black man but the main character is a blonde man I thought perhaps the author is saying “let’s deal with one thing at a time” To say the novel is a classic of gay literature confines it to a category I would say “it’s a classic” period It ranks very high on GR ratings– a 44 I’m adding it to my favorites Thank you to Laura for the recommendation Top photo the author's home in St Paul de Vence Provence from theguardiancoukThe cafe in Paris where Baldwin wrote Go Tell It on the Mountain from Wikipedia The author 1924 1987 from aalbccom


  4. says:

    I scarcely know how to describe that room It became in a way every room I had ever been in and every room I find myself in hereafter will remind me of Giovanni’s roomAt the end of July I spent a short but glorious time in 1950s Paris in Giovanni’s room And I want to tell you about my incredible experience but I can’t uite figure out how to go about it Having been left in the thrall of James Baldwin’s achingly exuisite prose I have been left speechless I can’t do the book justice Yet I want to convince you to read this book if you have not because you would surely be missing out on some of the best writing in the literary world if you pass it byDavid is an American who has escaped to Paris in an attempt to ‘find himself’ We hear this story directly from David’s first person narration allowing us to have a very intimate relationship and struggling with him in his deepest conflicts and darkest secrets Reflecting back over time he says I think now that if I had had any intimation that the self I was going to find would turn out to be only the same self from which I had spent so much time in flight I would have stayed at home But again I think I knew at the very bottom of my heart exactly what I was doing when I took the boat for France You don’t have to be ‘like’ David a young man struggling with his sexuality as he falls for Giovanni a passionate young man who offers to share his room with David Nor do you have to ‘click with’ David – he’s not necessarily a likeable guy Nevertheless Baldwin’s gift is to make you identify in some way with his characters and to rejoice in their fleeting moments of pleasure feel their raw pain and empathize with their deepest regrets You see David also has a woman in his life He constantly agonizes over his true desires and his sense of convention Hella offers him an opportunity for what he considers stability I wanted to be inside again with the light and safety with my manhood unuestioned watching my woman put my children to bed I wanted the same bed at night and the same arms and I wanted to rise in the morning knowing where I was I wanted a woman to be for me a steady ground like the earth itself where I could always be renewed It had been so once; it had almost been so once I could make it so again I could make it real It only demanded a short hard strength for me to become myself againThroughout the entire novel there is a feeling of melancholy the knowledge that tragedy is just around the corner David Giovanni and Hella all get swept up in this fatal web that David has created by his self denial self loathing and dishonesty Giovanni’s room seemed to be a symbol for that claustrophobic sensation of anything that closes you in and keeps your true self locked away and hidden How to escape the room? Both Giovanni and David are in need of rescue but in different ways Hella too needs to be saved She had also ‘escaped’ from America to Paris and then on to Spain in search of freedom a feeling of liberation My heart ached for her as well I began to realize it in Spain—that I wasn’t free that I couldn’t be free until I was attached—no committed—to someoneThis was my very first experience with reading James Baldwin It won’t be my last Just a couple of days after finishing this book I was on a short trip and all I could think about was searching out a used bookstore and scouring the shelves for anything by this brilliant man If you have ever felt isolated confined by convention in search of loving someone freely or burdened by regret then this book is for you I dare say that encompasses nearly everyone But people can’t unhappily invent their mooring posts their lovers and their friends any than they can invent their parents Life gives these and also takes them away and the great difficulty is to say Yes to life


  5. says:

    A lyrical work of fiction about the failure of love Giovanni's Room retraces the missteps that led an impassioned affair between two men away from the promise of happiness toward catastrophic ruin The first person narrator's ever present despair casts a melancholic shadow over the events he recollects even those that might at first appear to be pleasant A sense of deep regret pervades all of the novel From the start the reader and narrator share an understanding of the story's devastating and inalterable conclusion making it that much difficult for both to trek through the memory of misfortune after misfortune Baldwin's language is haunting his phrasing striking his imagery agonizing Giovanni's Room isn't an easy book to read but it is an important one


  6. says:

    ‘i scarcely know how to describe that room it became in a way every room i had ever been in and every room i find myself in hereafter will remind me of giovannis room’ simply beautiful simply heartbreaking simply realthis would probably be a 3 star read if it hadnt been for moments of such elegant prose i love love love the way JB describes human emotions and feelings particularly love and affection but the overall narrative which reminds me very much of the type of storytelling used for all books published before 1980 is not my favourite but i do appreciate some aspects of the writing and im uite impressed with the content which is the heart of this novel↠ 35 stars


  7. says:

    WowI read only one review of this bookwhich was soooo goodI immediately bought a used copyyet I don't think 'any' review prepares a reader for what they are about to experience I have two words Morally Mystifying THANK YOU Lizzy I stayedand I 'was' granted this masterpiece


  8. says:

    It is under the foreign sky of Paris where identity is protected by anonymity and the most darkest secrets do not transcend the limits of a room that David an American young man is forced to face the convoluted layers of the true nature of his identity Told in the first person narrator Giovanni's Room bewilders the reader because of the perturbing sensitivity with which Baldwin portrays an extremely delicate predicament; that of listening to the self deprecating inner voices that corrode the consciousness of those who deny their true selves for the sake of indoctrinated conventionalism and a false sense of security Desire repression and an imposed sense of duty present a battle of sorts that is embodied in the deadly love triangle formed by David his betrothed Hella and his lover Giovanni who unlike David accepts his homosexuality as his only reality Frightened by the conseuences of acknowledging his strong feelings for Giovanni David enters a spiral of self deception that drags Hella down to the gutters of an atavistic marriage that complies with the rigid social structures of the American way of life that doesn't contemplate love between euals Deep down David's dilemma runs deeper than his stubborn denial for the sake of appearances his moral struggle discloses a man who doesn't want to dispense with the inborn social status associated to gender This book is an obscure passionate and explicit defiance against racial and gender bias discrimination Baldwin's deliberate choice to construct a story in which all the characters are white and to bestow thematic relevance to homosexuality is a public denouncement of the preestablished canons promoted by a comfortable majority that sets the boundaries of a mainstream value systemThe image of the empty room with its crumbling walls and a tousled bed is spine chilling in its validity because it cuts across the apology for the homosexual rights It is also a universal metaphor that symbolizes that part of ourselves that we desperately want to escape from in a blind struggle against our deepest fears against the foibles that we agonize over to conceal at all costs against the irrepressible need for acceptance even if that means to sacrifice those we love the most even if that means to sentence ourselves to live of inessential memories and become the ghostly shadow of our past desires Beautiful and terrible ”Giovanni’s Room” is in the end a painful and bitingly honest introspection into the infernos of the nature of humankind for as David turns his back and leaves the room again and again we fool ourselves into believing that had we been in his place we would have acted differently would have had courage to be fair would have been sincere with ourselves and our needs and those of our belovedsWouldn’t we? “Until I die there will be moments moments seeming to rise up out of the ground like Macbeth’s witches when his face will come before me the face in all its changes when the exact timbre of his voice and tricks of his speech will nearly burst my ears when his smell will overpower my nostrils”


  9. says:

    I wasn't sure any Baldwin book would surpass his Go Tell is to the Mountain which I loved but this one was even better and an immediate favourite This story was wonderfully written and explored a gay storyline which I have never encountered in African American writing from Baldwin's eraSupposedly uite a few prolific African American writers were not such big fans of Baldwin due to this reasonThis story is set in Paris and is about an American man David who is in love with both a man Giovanni and a woman Hella He really struggles to come to terms with his sexualityand to reconcile his inner conflict Baldwin really captures the Parisian atmosphere and it's obvious he was well acuainted with the city Reading his depiction of Paris has really activated my wanderlust There's to the story than the gay storyline though uestions are raised about authenticity the meaning of home whether we act out of fear or love etcI can honestly say I have never read writing uite like it before This is one I plan on purchasing to re read


  10. says:

    “Beneath the joy of course was anguish and beneath the amazement was fear By then anguish and fear had become the surface on which we slipped and slid losing balance dignity and pride” It’s a terrible thing to be driven by fear and shame To be caught in the web of self loathing mistrust denial untruths; in the eternal struggle between desire and guilt; a neverending existential crisis that becomes your entire existence The fight between what is perceived as normal what is expected from you — and that what is seen as abhorrent deviant repulsiveWe lie best when we lie to ourselves as Stephen King once said “And at the risk of losing forever your so remarkably candid friendship let me tell you something Confusion is a luxury which only the very very young can possibly afford and you are not that young any” David a twenty something American man sometime in the 1950s is idling around in Paris where he traveled to “find himself” running away from his long suppressed unacceptable to him sexual feelings towards men his sexual encounter with a friend in his teens forcibly relegated to the back rooms of his memory with shame driving him towards secure comfort of what’s societally acceptable and familiarly expected from him “I had decided to allow no room in the universe for something which shamed and frightened me” David is cold cruel and immensely judgmental He is terrified of situations that leave him exposed and vulnerable that make him in his perception “lose his manhood” by stepping into the scary unfamiliar unknown The fear leads to self contempt which ultimately is destructive not just for him but those around him as well He thinks himself above his gay acuaintances despises then by finding security in his carefully cultivated straight masculinity and yet with the strange calculated cruelty exploits his attractiveness to them Until one day he meets Giovanni and his carefully constructed pretend world is threatening to fall apart “I watched him as he moved And then I watched their faces watching him And then I was afraid I knew that they were watching had been watching both of us They knew that they had witnessed a beginning and now they would not cease to watch until they saw the end” Given a choice between accepting himself and his desires and conforming to his view of what life should be David runs Before even getting comfortable in Giovanni’s room both physical and metaphorical entity he is looking for a way out an escape a reprieve which never comes Not even running away from Paris helps because you cannot fun away from yourself by changing addresses “Those evenings were bitter Giovanni knew that I was going to leave him but he did not dare accuse me for fear of being corroborated I did not dare to tell him Hella was on her way back from Spain and my father had agreed to send me money which I was not going to use to help Giovanni who had done so much to help me I was going to use it to escape his room” It is a story of strained and doomed love in a grim world of a Paris underbelly of sorts the gay Parisian scene that we see filtered through David’s eyes is far from the artistic bohemian world but rather the dark dangerous and sad web of casual encounters desperate transactional sex loveless loneliness shady almost inhuman in David’s eyes¹ early on he refers to a gay character as “it” and freuently despicable characters It is not a counterculture by choice it is a counterculture formed by merciless rejection This is what David sees and fears and detests and strives to escape from into the bright and shiny “normal” world full of comfortable familiarity ¹ A chilling terrifying peek into David’s thoughts aimed at dehumanizing who he sees as “other” “I confess that his utter grotesueness made me uneasy; perhaps in the same way that the sight of monkeys eating their own excrement turns some people’s stomachs They might not mind so much if monkeys did not—so grotesuely—resemble human beings” Yes it is terrible to be driven by fear and shame and lies And no surprise that it is paralyzing and suffocating and claustrophobically oppressive the feelings David contemptuously chooses to transfer to Giovanni and his sualid cramped room instead of seeing it within his own caged heart But what’s immoral as Giovanni lets David know and David reluctantly starts to grasp is not the physical acts but living life without love “I wanted to find a girl any girl at all” David himself casually engages in coldly using a female acuaintance for sex only to prop his faltering sense of masculinity “But I was thinking that what I did with Giovanni could not possibly be immoral that what I was about to do with Sue” This is a book that blends beautiful and disgusting in David’s eyes The alluring and grotesue are just a heartbeat apart constantly clashing constantly fighting What wins is shame constant shame constant horrifying self loathing and self disgust that torment David and break him while forming a restrictive claustrophobic cage around him just like Giovanni’s room that he came to loathe and fear “There are so many ways of being despicable it uite makes one’s head spin But the way to be really despicable is to be contemptuous of other people’s pain” David chooses to clutch at what he perceives to be safe masculinity while denying the uncomfortable less conventional parts of his self And he is not alone His fiancée Hella does the same blindly dives into what she openly sees as acceptable femininity determinedly and gleefully abandoning the ualities that did not fit with the mid century American female ideal “The beast which Giovanni had awakened in me would never go to sleep again; but one day I would not be with Giovanni any And would I then like all the others find myself turning and following all kinds of boys down God knows what dark avenues into what dark places?With this fearful intimation there opened in me a hatred for Giovanni which was as powerful as my love and which was nourished by the same roots” It’s a book of pain and loneliness and crushingly suffocating oppression of fear and shame It’s unsettling and troubling and yet strangely beautiful It is a book about terrible people doing terrible things and nobody is exempt from human awfulness and a piercing glimpse into the darkest depths of imperfect souls It deserves every word of praise that’s been heaped on in the last sixty plus years5 heartbreaking uncomfortable stars———— “Ah” cried Giovanni “Don’t you know when you have made a friend?”I knew I must look foolish and that my uestion was foolish too “So soon?”“Why no” he said reasonably and looked at his watch “we can wait another hour if you like We can become friends then Or we can wait until closing time We can become friends then Or we can wait until tomorrow only that means that you must come in here tomorrow and perhaps you have something else to do”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *