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Go Tell It on the Mountain

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"Mountain," Baldwin said, "is the book I had to write if I was ever going to write anything else."

Go Tell It On The Mountain, first published in 1953, is Baldwin's first major work, a novel that has established itself as an American classic. With lyrical precision, psychological directness, 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 ...

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New York, NY 2000 Trade paperback New. Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. 240 p. *****PLEASE NOTE: This item is shipping from an authorized seller in Europe. In the event ... that a return is necessary, you will be able to return your item within the US. To learn more about our European sellers and policies see the BookQuest FAQ section***** Read more Show Less

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Overview

"Mountain," Baldwin said, "is the book I had to write if I was ever going to write anything else."

Go Tell It On The Mountain, first published in 1953, is Baldwin's first major work, a novel that has established itself as an American classic. With lyrical precision, psychological directness, 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Sacred Life
Go Tell It on the Mountain is filled with biblical references that evoke the spirit of the black church and a realism that brings to life the Harlem of the 1930s, a northern ghetto whose inhabitants were still struggling with southern demons. Baldwin, in a 1984 interview with the Paris Review, captured what he was trying to say in the novel about all of us and about his own life: "[Writing Go Tell It on the Mountain] was an attempt to exorcise something, to find out what happened to my father, what happened to all of us, what had happened to me and how we were to move from one place to another." Its brilliant style and sophisticated portrait of a young man struggling with complex issues made this one of the landmark novels of the postwar period.
From the Publisher
“With vivid imagery, with lavish attention to details, Mr. Baldwin has told his feverish story.” —The New York Times
 
“Brutal, objective and compassionate.” —San Francisco Chronicle
 
“It is written with poetic intensity and great narrative skill.” —Harper’s
 
“Strong and powerful.” —Commonweal
 
“A sense of reality and vitality that is truly extraordinary. . . . He knows Harlem, his people, and the language they use.” —Chicago Sun-Times
 
“This is a distinctive book, both realistic and brutal, but a novel of extraordinary sensitivity and poetry.” —Chicago Sunday Tribune
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385334570
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/28/2000
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 7.99 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

James Baldwin

James Baldwin was born on August 2, 1924, and educated in New York. His first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, appeared in 1953 to excellent reviews and immediately was recognized as establishing a profound and permanent new voice in American letters. "Mountain is the book I had to write if I was ever going to write anything else," he remarked. Baldwin's play The Amen Corner was first performed at Howard University in 1955 (it was staged commercially in the 1960s), and his acclaimed collection of essays Notes of a Native Son, was published the same year. A second collection of essays, Nobody Knows My Name, was published in 1961 between his novels Giovanni's Room (1956) and Another Country (1961).

The appearance of The Fire Next Time in 1963, just as the civil rights movement was exploding across the American South, galvanized the nation and continues to reverberate as perhaps the most prophetic and defining statement ever written of the continuing costs of Americans' refusal to face their own history. It became a national bestseller, and Baldwin was featured on the cover of Time magazine. Critic Irving Howe said that The Fire Next Time achieved "heights of passionate exhortation unmatched in modern American writing." In 1964 Blues for Mister Charlie, his play based on the murder of a young black man in Mississippi, was produced by the Actors Studio in New York. That same year, Baldwin was made a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters and collaborated with the photographer Richard Avedon on Nothing Personal, a series of portraits of America intended as a eulogy for the slain Medger Evers. A collection of short stories, Going to Meet the Man, was published in 1965, and in 1968, Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone, his last novel of the 1960s appeared.

In the 1970s he wrote two more collections of essays and cultural criticism: No Name in the Street (1972) and The Devil Finds Work (1976). He produced two novels: the bestselling If Beale Street Could Talk (1974) and Just Above My Head (1979) and also a children's book Little Man, Little Man: A Story of Childhood (1976). He collaborated with Margaret Mead on A Rap on Race (1971) and with the poet-activist Nikki Giovanni on A Dialogue (1973). He also adapted Alex Haley's The Autobiography of Malcolm X into One Day When I Was Lost.

In the remaining years of his life, Baldwin produced a volume of poetry, Jimmy's Blues (1983), and a final collection of essays, The Price of the Ticket. Baldwin's last work, The Evidence of Things Not Seen (1985), was prompted by a series of child murders in Atlanta. Baldwin was made a Commander of the French Legion of Honor in June 1986. Among the other awards he received are a Eugene F. Saxon Memorial Trust Award, a Rosenwald fellowship, a Guggenheim fellowship, a Partisan Review fellowship, and a Ford Foundation grant.

James Baldwin died at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence in France on December 1, 1987.

Biography

James Baldwin was born on August 2, 1924, and educated in New York. His first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, appeared in 1953 to excellent reviews and immediately was recognized as establishing a profound and permanent new voice in American letters. "Mountain is the book I had to write if I was ever going to write anything else," he remarked. Baldwin's play The Amen Corner was first performed at Howard University in 1955 (it was staged commercially in the 1960s), and his acclaimed collection of essays Notes of a Native Son, was published the same year. A second collection of essays, Nobody Knows My Name, was published in 1961 between his novels Giovanni's Room (1956) and Another Country (1961).

The appearance of The Fire Next Time in 1963, just as the civil rights movement was exploding across the American South, galvanized the nation and continues to reverberate as perhaps the most prophetic and defining statement ever written of the continuing costs of Americans' refusal to face their own history. It became a national bestseller, and Baldwin was featured on the cover of Time magazine. Critic Irving Howe said that The Fire Next Time achieved "heights of passionate exhortation unmatched in modern American writing." In 1964 Blues for Mister Charlie, his play based on the murder of a young black man in Mississippi, was produced by the Actors Studio in New York. That same year, Baldwin was made a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters and collaborated with the photographer Richard Avedon on Nothing Personal, a series of portraits of America intended as a eulogy for the slain Medger Evers. A collection of short stories, Going to Meet the Man, was published in 1965, and in 1968, Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone, his last novel of the 1960s appeared.

In the 1970s he wrote two more collections of essays and cultural criticism: No Name in the Street (1972) and The Devil Finds Work (1976). He produced two novels: the bestselling If Beale Street Could Talk (1974) and Just Above My Head (1979) and also a children's book Little Man, Little Man: A Story of Childhood (1976). He collaborated with Margaret Mead on A Rap on Race (1971) and with the poet-activist Nikki Giovanni on A Dialogue (1973). He also adapted Alex Haley's The Autobiography of Malcolm X into One Day When I Was Lost.

In the remaining years of his life, Baldwin produced a volume of poetry, Jimmy's Blues (1983), and a final collection of essays, The Price of the Ticket. Baldwin's last work, The Evidence of Things Not Seen (1985), was prompted by a series of child murders in Atlanta. Baldwin was made a Commander of the French Legion of Honor in June 1986. Among the other awards he received are a Eugene F. Saxon Memorial Trust Award, a Rosenwald fellowship, a Guggenheim fellowship, a Partisan Review fellowship, and a Ford Foundation grant.

James Baldwin died at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence in France on December 1, 1987.

Author biography courtesy of Random House, Inc.

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    1. Also Known As:
      James Arthur Baldwin (full name)
      James Baldwin
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 2, 1924
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Death:
      December 1, 1987
    2. Place of Death:
      St. Paul de Vence, France

Read an Excerpt

I looked down the line,
And I wondered.

Everyone had always said that john would be a preacher when he grew up, just like his father. It had been said so often that John, without ever thinking about it, had come to believe it himself. Not until the morning of his fourteenth birthday did he really begin to think about it, and by then it was already too late.

His earliest memories—which were in a way, his only memories—were of the hurry and brightness of Sunday mornings. They all rose together on that day; his father, who did not have to go to work, and led them in prayer before breakfast; his mother, who dressed up on that day, and looked almost young, with her hair straightened, and on her head the close-fitting white cap that was the uniform of holy women; his younger brother, Roy, who was silent that day because his father was home. Sarah, who wore a red ribbon in her hair that day, and was fondled by her father. And the baby, Ruth, who was dressed in pink and white, and rode in her mother's arms to church.

The church was not very far away, four blocks up Lenox Avenue, on a corner not far from the hospital. It was to this hospital that his mother had gone when Roy, and Sarah, and Ruth were born. John did not remember very clearly the first time she had gone, to have Roy; folks said that he had cried and carried on the whole time his mother was away; he remembered only enough to be afraid every time her belly began to swell, knowing that each time the swelling began it would not end until she was taken from him, to come back with a stranger. Each time this happened she became a little more of a stranger herself. She would soon be going away again, Roy said—he knew much more about such things than John. John had observed his mother closely, seeing no swelling yet, but his father had prayed one morning for the "little voyager soon to be among them," and so John knew that Roy spoke the truth.

Every Sunday morning, then, since John could remember, they had taken to the streets, the Grimes family on their way to church. Sinners along the avenue watched them—men still wearing their Saturday-night clothes, wrinkled and dusty now, muddy-eyed and muddy-faced; and women with harsh voices and tight, bright dresses, cigarettes between their fingers or held tightly in the corners of their mouths. They talked, and laughed, and fought together, and the women fought like the men. John and Roy, passing these men and women, looked at one another briefly, John embarrassed and Roy amused. Roy would be like them when he grew up, if the Lord did not change his heart. These men and women they passed on Sunday mornings had spent the night in bars, or in cat houses, or on the streets, or on rooftops, or under the stairs. They had been drinking. They had gone from cursing to laughter, to anger, to lust. Once he and Roy had watched a man and woman in the basement of a condemned house. They did it standing up. The woman had wanted fifty cents, and the man had flashed a razor.

John had never watched again; he had been afraid. But Roy had watched them many times, and he told John he had done it with some girls down the block.

And his mother and father, who went to church on Sundays, they did it too, and sometimes John heard them in the bedroom behind him, over the sound of rats' feet, and rat screams, and the music and cursing from the harlot's house downstairs.

Their church was called the Temple of the Fire Baptized. It was not the biggest church in Harlem, nor yet the smallest, but John had been brought up to believe it was the holiest and best. His father was head deacon in this church—there were only two, the other a round, black man named Deacon Braithwaite—and he took up the collection, and sometimes he preached. The pastor, Father James, was a genial, well-fed man with a face like a darker moon. It was he who preached on Pentecost Sundays, and led revivals in the summertime, and anointed and healed the sick.

On Sunday mornings and Sunday nights the church was always full; on special Sundays it was full all day. The Grimes family arrived in a body, always a little late, usually in the middle of Sunday school, which began at nine o'clock. This lateness was always their mother's fault—at least in the eyes of their father; she could not seem to get herself and the children ready on time, ever, and sometimes she actually remained behind, not to appear until the morning service. When they all arrived together, they separated upon entering the doors, father and mother going to sit in the Adult Class, which was taught by Sister McCandless, Sarah going to the Infant's Class, John and Roy sitting in the Intermediate, which was taught by Brother Elisha.

When he was young, John had paid no attention in Sunday school, and always forgot the golden text, which earned him the wrath of his father. Around the time of his fourteenth birthday, with all the pressures of church and home uniting to drive him to the altar, he strove to appear more serious and therefore less conspicuous. But he was distracted by his new teacher, Elisha, who was the pastor's nephew and who had but lately arrived from Georgia. He was not much older than John, only seventeen, and he was already saved and was a preacher. John stared at Elisha all during the lesson, admiring the timbre of Elisha's voice, much deeper and manlier than his own, admiring the leanness, and grace, and strength, and darkness of Elisha in his Sunday suit, wondering if he would ever be holy as Elisha was holy. But he did not follow the lesson, and when, sometimes, Elisha paused to ask John a question, John was ashamed and confused, feeling the palms of his hands become wet and his heart pound like a hammer. Elisha would smile and reprimand him gently, and the lesson would go on.

Roy never knew his Sunday school lesson either, but it was different with Roy—no one really expected of Roy what was expected of John. Everyone was always praying that the Lord would change Roy's heart, but it was John who was expected to be good, to be a good example.

When Sunday school service ended there was a short pause before morning service began. In this pause, if it was good weather, the old folks might step outside a moment to talk among themselves. The sisters would almost always be dressed in white from crown to toe. The small children, on this day, in this place, and oppressed by their elders, tried hard to play without seeming to be disrespectful of God's house. But sometimes, nervous or perverse, they shouted, or threw hymn-books, or began to cry, putting their parents, men or women of God, under the necessity of proving—by harsh means or tender—who, in a sanctified household, ruled. The older children, like John or Roy, might wander down the avenue, but not too far. Their father never let John and Roy out of his sight, for Roy had often disappeared between Sunday school and morning service and had not come back all day.

The Sunday morning service began when Brother Elisha sat down at the piano and raised a song. This moment and this music had been with John, so it seemed, since he had first drawn breath. It seemed that there had never been a time when he had not known this moment of waiting while the packed church paused—the sisters in white, heads raised, the brothers in blue, heads back; the white caps of the women seeming to glow in the charged air like crowns, the kinky, gleaming heads of the men seeming to be lifted up—and the rustling and the whispering ceased and the children were quiet; perhaps someone coughed, or the sound of a car horn, or a curse from the streets came in; then Elisha hit the keys, beginning at once to sing, and everybody joined him, clapping their hands, and rising, and beating the tambourines.

The song might be: Down at the cross where my Saviour died!

Or: Jesus, I'll never forget how you set me free!

Or: Lord, hold my hand while I run this race!

They sang with all the strength that was in them, and clapped their hands for joy. There had never been a time when John had not sat watching the saints rejoice with terror in his heart, and wonder. Their singing caused him to believe in the presence of the Lord; indeed, it was no longer a question of belief, because they made that presence real. He did not feel it himself, the joy they felt, yet he could not doubt that it was, for them, the very bread of life—could not doubt it, that is, until it was too late to doubt. Something happened to their faces and their voices, the rhythm of their bodies, and to the air they breathed; it was as though wherever they might be became the upper room, and the Holy Ghost were riding on the air. His father's face, always awful, became more awful now; his father's daily anger was transformed into prophetic wrath. His mother, her eyes raised to heaven, hands arced before her, moving, made real for John that patience, that endurance, that long suffering, which he had read of in the Bible and found so hard to imagine.

On Sunday mornings the women all seemed patient, all the men seemed mighty. While John watched, the Power struck someone, a man or woman; they cried out, a long, wordless crying, and, arms outstretched like wings, they began the Shout. Someone moved a chair a little to give them room, the rhythm paused, the singing stopped, only the pounding feet and the clapping hands were heard; then another cry, another dancer; then the tambourines began again, and the voices rose again, and the music swept on again, like fire, or flood, or judgment. Then the church seemed to swell with the Power it held, and, like a planet rocking in space, the temple rocked with the Power of God. John watched, watched the faces, and the weightless bodies, and listened to the timeless cries. One day, so everyone said, this Power would possess him; he would sing and cry as they did now, and dance before his King. He watched young Ella Mae Washington, the seventeen-year-old granddaughter of Praying Mother Washington, as she began to dance. And then Elisha danced.

At one moment, head thrown back, eyes closed, sweat standing on his brow, he sat at the piano, singing and playing; and then, like a great, black cat in trouble in the jungle, he stiffened and trembled, and cried out. Jesus, Jesus, oh Lord Jesus! He struck on the piano one last, wild note, and threw up his hands, palms upward, stretched wide apart. The tambourines raced to fill the vacuum left by his silent piano, and his cry drew answering cries. Then he was on his feet, turning, blind, his face congested, contorted with this rage, and the muscles leaping and swelling in his long, dark neck. It seemed that he could not breathe, that his body could not contain this passion, that he would be, before their eyes, dispersed into the waiting air. His hands, rigid to the very fingertips, moved outward and back against his hips, his sightless eyes looked upward, and he began to dance. Then his hands closed into fists, and his head snapped downward, his sweat loosening the grease that slicked down his hair; and the rhythm of all the others quickened to match Elisha's rhythm; his thighs moved terribly against the cloth of his suit, his heels beat on the floor, and his fists moved beside his body as though he were beating his own drum. And so, for a while, in the center of the dancers, head down, fists beating, on, on, unbearably, until it seemed the walls of the church would fall for very sound; and then, in a moment, with a cry, head up, arms high in the air, sweat pouring from his forehead, and all his body dancing as though it would never stop. Sometimes he did not stop until he fell—until he dropped like some animal felled by a hammer—moaning, on his face. And then a great moaning filled the church.

There was sin among them. One Sunday, when regular service was over, Father James had uncovered sin in the congregation of the righteous. He had uncovered Elisha and Ella Mae. They had been "walking disorderly"; they were in danger of straying from the truth. And as Father James spoke of the sin that he knew they had not committed yet, of the unripe fig plucked too early from the tree—to set the children's teeth on edge—John felt himself grow dizzy in his seat and could not look at Elisha where he stood, beside Ella Mae, before the altar. Elisha hung his head as Father James spoke, and the congregation murmured. And Ella Mae was not so beautiful now as she was when she was singing and testifying, but looked like a sullen, ordinary girl. Her full lips were loose and her eyes were black—with shame, or rage, or both. Her grandmother, who had raised her, sat watching quietly, with folded hands. She was one of the pillars of the church, a powerful evangelist and very widely known. She said nothing in Ella Mae's defense, for she must have felt, as the congregation felt, that Father James was only exercising his clear and painful duty; he was responsible, after all, for Elisha, as Praying Mother Washington was responsible for Ella Mae. It was not an easy thing, said Father James, to be the pastor of a flock. It might look easy to just sit up there in the pulpit night after night, year in, year out, but let them remember the awful responsibility placed on his shoulders by almighty God—let them remember that God would ask an accounting of him one day for every soul in his flock. Let them remember this when they thought he was hard, let them remember that the Word was hard, that the way of holiness was a hard way. There was no room in God's army for the coward heart, no crown awaiting him who put mother, or father, sister, or brother, sweetheart, or friend above God's will. Let the church cry amen to this! And they cried: "Amen! Amen!"

The Lord had led him, said Father James, looking down on the boy and girl before him, to give them a public warning before it was too late. For he knew them to be sincere young people, dedicated to the service of the Lord—it was only that, since they were young, they did not know the pitfalls Satan laid for the unwary. He knew that sin was not in their minds—not yet; yet sin was in the flesh; and should they continue with their walking out alone together, their secrets and laughter, and touching of hands, they would surely sin a sin beyond all forgiveness. And John wondered what Elisha was thinking—Elisha, who was tall and handsome, who played basketball, and who had been saved at the age of eleven in the improbable fields down south. Had he sinned? Had he been tempted? And the girl beside him, whose white robes now seemed the merest, thinnest covering for the nakedness of breasts and insistent thighs—what was her face like when she was alone with Elisha, with no singing, when they were not surrounded by the saints? He was afraid to think of it, yet he could think of nothing else; and the fever of which they stood accused began also to rage in him.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 47 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(15)

4 Star

(16)

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(8)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 47 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2003

    POWERFUL WORK OF A MASTER

    This first masterwork by James Baldwin represents one of the most penetrating, eloquent, and original visions in American literature. The crisis of black spirituality in a land constantly negating black humanity is not a tale easily told, yet Baldwin did so with a rare degree of power, beauty, and courage. The reasons this novel is generally described as a classic are evident on every page.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2001

    Go Tell It On The Mountain, a disappointment in itself

    Drawn-out, overly descriptive, and at times hard to follow. Go Tell It On The Mountain by James Baldwin tells the story of the deep spiritual struggle of a fourteen year old black boy growing up in a Harlem community in the 1930¿s. At times, the book sounds almost poetic until an abrupt, and occasionally disturbing, flash back jumps at you from out of nowhere. Eventually, the story turns into somewhat of a bad soap opera with adultery, gangs, attempted murder, child abuse, suicide, and rape. Baldwin has shown through this book his mastery of fitting someone¿s life story into a single sentence as he attempted to do several times, losing the reader mid sentence. Baldwin also went on for pages describing dust in a house and adulterous moments-a euphemism of course. I can certainly agree with New York Times'review, ¿ with vivid imagery and lavish attention to details.¿ But I never imagined it to be this bad. Where details lacked in some areas, they grew like weeds in others. Attention to details many people do not want to hear about proliferated, distracting from the supposed focus of the book, the spiritual struggles of a teenage boy. In five words or less: sick, twisted and way to long. So, if you are looking for a soap opera-like book which could have easily been 200 pages shorter go to your nearest bookstore and purchase Go Tell It On The Mountain by James Baldwin.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 25, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Did Not Like It

    Boring-don't want a novel too preach "at",me like this book did.This book is for people who don't mind a church like related novel.I have a lot of respect for James Baldwin but this book did absolute nothing for me,except put me to sleep,in any case I finished it just to see how it would end,not the way I thought it would.I personaly would not recommend it but if you like James Baldwin or never read any of his books and want to chance it by all means do.After reading this book I'm now afraid too read any of his other books.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2008

    all white people should read this!

    This book brings important insight into the humanity of black people that is very sadly seldom seen in classic literature, or anywhere else, for that matter. It is also beautifully and captivatingly written, fascinating and thought provoking about human psychology, while providing insight into the minds of oppressors.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2008

    i loved it!

    Baldwin takes you back in time thanks to his vivid imagery. he makes you become part of the story. I read it in two sittings; I simply could not let the book go!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2008

    Good Read

    I understood most of the book, but eventually had a strong recognition tp it. When I saw the movie, i was like, 'Oh, so that's what happened!' I has a full comprehension of the book after I watched the movie

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2008

    A reviewer

    Go Tell It on the Mountain is filled with biblical information that brings out the spirit of the black church and a realism that brings to life the Harlem of the 1930s, a northern ghetto whose souls were still struggling with southern demons. This book as a novel brings out so much in the point of view and you can also learn from it. The language they use is very proper as because it was back in the days and the tone of work is just magnificent it brings out every detail and brings it to your perspective. This novel was an attempt to exorcise something about the past life of the author James Baldwin, to find out what happened to his father, what happened to all of the people, what had happened to him and how we were to move from one place to another it is just about another young man struggling with tough issues in life like any other kid that made this one of the greatest novels of the period.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2008

    A struggle for acceptance!

    A struggle of emotional acceptance!

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2007

    Review of bad book.

    Go Tell It on the Mountain By James Baldwin In the book Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin, he tells a story about a fourteen year old boy¿s journey to spiritual deliverance. The book takes place in Harlem, New York during the early 1900s but it is not emphasized throughout the book. While reading, I didn¿t fell like I was part of the story because the authors didn¿t do a great job in describing the setting and other characteristics of a scene. The characters in the story are believable and if you read the story, you¿ll realize the characters are like everyday people. A character in the story hated her brother and tried to bring him down, just like siblings in some families dislike each other. The story¿s plot, I think, is in an interesting order. First the story¿s is the present, then the past, then back to the present. Readers shouldn¿t read the book if they have to annotate on the book because the plot makes it hard to take notes on. The reader also can¿t figure out the growth of a character because the characters aren¿t steady throughout the book and the theme is hard to find. All in all, I don¿t think the Go Tell It on the Mountain was very good because I couldn¿t relate to what the book was about. I am not jovial about this book and I was glad when the book was over because I was tired of reading it. Go Tell It on the Mountain got great reviews from the New York Times, Sun- Times, Saturday Review, The Nation, and other critics, but it gets a negative review from me. Although, if you like journey books and reading about a character¿s life story, then this Go Tell It on the Mountain is right for you because it tells about the journey of the four main character in detail.

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2006

    Go Tell it on the Mountain.

    For a quick read, James Baldwin¿s novel may be suitable, but coming from a classroom setting, almost unsatisfactory. Although Go Tell it on the Mountain is written by an important figure in African American Literature, I did not enjoy reading this book on many accounts, which range from summary, story structure, and my disliking of the characters. The story begins with the family in Go Tell it on the Mountain getting ready to go to church. Religion plays a very important part and the most important people are part of the church. John, one of the main characters, has been watching people amongst his family being ¿saved¿ and beginning a new life all the time. He wakes up on his fourteenth birthday feeling nothing different and none of his family members even acknowledge even a `happy birthday¿ to him. His mother, Elizabeth comes around to it, gives him some money and sends him on his way. John is scared someone from the church might see him downtown, so he runs into the movie theater. While he is gone, his brother Roy gets into trouble and gets stabbed. John comes home to his father, Gabriel, being very upset with him, Roy wounded, Elizabeth crying and his Aunt Florence yelling at Gabriel. Everyone is upset at everyone and so trouble follows. Gabriel ends up slapping Elizabeth and then beats Roy for taking up for his mother. Aunt Florence calls him out on being a stereotypic black man all the while John is just standing back, witnessing everything. After that, the family goes to church as if nothing happened. Florence rarely goes to church, so in this case, John knew she must have been near her deathbed. The novel then goes into depth about her past and Gabriel¿s as well, since they are siblings. Following the description of Florence¿s past, Gabriel¿s past and Elizabeth¿s past, it takes the reader to the end of the book. After a few days after John¿s fourteenth birthday, the story ends. One point I did not like about Go Tell it on the Mountain, was that the story took place only within a few days and nothing too significant happens. The reason why nothing happens is because majority of the novel details almost all of the character¿spasts. The reader knows very little about the main character John, but jumps into Florence¿s past along with all the decisions she¿s had to make, Gabriel¿s past with all of the irrational and religious behavior and Elizabeth¿s quiet past. While reading through the character¿s lives, they were interesting and gave the reader clear descriptions of each personality. Unfortunately I expected it to come to a point in the story and it did not. As soon as the novel flashes back to the present year of the novel, 1935, the book is practically over and the character¿s past hardly had anything to do with the plot. Although, James Baldwin wrote about many discussion worthy and prominent topics, like children out of wedlock, hypocrisy and male and female roles I did not find the backgrounds to serve as any argument in the story. Baldwin should have brought the detail of the character¿s lives to around full circle and made them play a more significant role in the novel, especially the ending. What actually makes the novel are the characters inside it, but in Go Tell in on the Mountain¿s case, the characters are my least favorite. To pinpoint the term main character on one person in this novel can be confusing because two of them can be considered main character. Starting with the most obvious one, John, right at first he seemed different and slower. Slower meaning possibly autistic because he has a hard time making social connections with people yet he excels in school. Everyone in the church though John would follow in Gabriel¿s footsteps and become a preacher, but John did not care if he did or did not. He was afraid of many things, such as sin. At one point, J

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2006

    Go Tell It on the Mountain

    James Baldwin¿s negative but strong critique of Uncle Tom¿s Cabin and other novels in the article, Everybody¿s Protest Novel exposes many potential points to hinder on African American literature. Likewise I envisioned through reading his appraisal that he precisely exhibits his points in his novel Go Tell It on the Mountain. Baldwin states that novels, primarily Uncle Tom¿s Cabin show the sadness of being black. That it is always the black person being inferior to the white man. Moreover, he states that those novels only showed that the black person¿s main aim in life was trying to get whiter. Baldwin argues that African Americans should accept their life as full human beings and work on improving it their way for their own benefit. He says that blacks should accept their life even with all the difficulty rather than reject it while dreaming of the white man¿s life. As a result when I go back to Baldwin¿s own novel Go Tell It on the Mountain, I see that the theme of that story reflects the struggle of an African American family to live a normal life independent of the white man. The story shows all the backfiring that transition of style of life has on that family: all the sadness, sins, bad habits, family complications, hypocrisy. The story reflects no positive status for that family even after it attempts to remove itself from all the negative influences the white man¿s world has had on them during the past centuries. Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin is a decent book. It talks about an African-American family in the early 20th century that strived through many personal problems in the past and present. John Grimes, the main character is a 14 year old boy who struggles to meet the expectations of his father Reverend Gabriel Grimes. Gabriel was a man of religion, but he also was mean and abusive father. He wanted John to become a man faith and submit to God. However John disliked the matter, because it was always forced on him. He wanted to live life like every other boy and man out there. He wanted to go to the theatres, and wanted the pleasure of women, as well as much more. Plus, John was always being compared to Elisha, a young man of faith in his early twenties. John was expected to be of Elisha¿s stature. The story illustrates his constant struggles with his displeasing father, Gabriel. But to make the story even more thrilling, the author gave an exciting overview of Gabriel¿s life and some of the other member¿s lives. Gabriel was at first a corrupt young man who did whatever a man could do. Then after a certain amount time he gained his faith and decided to become a speaker in the name of God, according to what his dying mother aspired. As he became dedicated to his faith and his mother¿s death bed, his older sister, Florence fled the house to go north the country in search for what she considered a better life. Gabriel grew to become a very passionate and influential speaker of God¿s words. He then married his sister¿s old friend Deborah. She was older than Gabriel, without much beauty to offer. Nevertheless she was a woman of great faith. However Gabriel status as a man of faith did not stop him from the haunts of sin, where he fell into the hands of a faithless woman named Esther. After having intercourses with her for several consecutive days, he got her pregnant which caused much concern for him. He then paid her to go away to eventually die so that his reputation would be saved. His abandoned bastard son Royal eventually died too. Even after all that he had committed, he believed that God would forgive him, which made him in denial till the present day of the story. After Deborah passed away, Gabriel moved in with his sister, who he did not get along with too well to then meet Elizabeth. Elizabeth was a lost woman similar to Esther, who was in love with Richard who sooner or later committed suicide. She had a bastard child from him, who it turned out to be the main character John. Gabriel de

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2006

    Temptations

    i like this book because of it is about the struggles with temptations. It tells what the temptations was and how they dealt with it. Everyone that reads this should be able to find how they relate to these situations, that these characters have done. I can relate to father Gabriel's lust for women and his drinking habits, then pulls himself out of the gutter and begs for forgiveness. This book has its emotional ups and downs, but it shows that it is never too late to start over. I highly recommend this book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2006

    read this

    Go tell it on the mountain was an alright book. The only part that I didn¿t like was that the book was too long. Go tell it on the mountain I would recommend to a teammate who really enjoys reading. If you really think that reading is so boring then I won¿t recommend this book to you. I thought this book was going to be short and fun to read, but, no, it was boring and long. Also another reason why I didn¿t like this book was because there was no action to it. I really like books that are interesting and are with action.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2005

    An Excellent Introduction to an American Original

    As a first novels go, I thought this particular title was excellent, even brilliant at times. The author did particularly well in illustrating the difficulties faced by successive generations of African-Americans in the early 20th century. His character sketches of John and the rest of the Grimes family are very well done in my opinion. Baldwin initially gives the reader a very limited portrait of the adults, and then reveals in one layer after another how the choices and compromises each was forced to make in a racist and misogynistic society in turn affected their relationships with one another and the succeeding generation as represented by the protagonist. A word finally about some of the comments by other reviewers on this page. Many of them seem to focus on the novel's lack of a thriller-like plot or structure and 'lavish attention to detail.' However, this is the novel's principal strength in my opinion. It allows Baldwin's narrative to tell some uncomfortable truths about African-Americans, both men and women, and perhaps most importantly about America itself that a 'thriller-like plot' would never be able to accomplish in the same way. From the many errors in spelling, grammar and syntax that were evident in the reviews I read on this page, it is clear that the fault most likely lies with their inability to comprehend the complex social issues and historical insights that the author is dealing with in this novel, rather than any shortcoming of the book itself. I hope that they can reconsider their attitudes toward the novel and the rest of Baldwin's work at a later time in their lives when they've acquired more enlightenment (as well as education). I'm sure that their reading of the novel will be the richer for it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2011

    Go tell It on the Mountain

    "Go Tell it on the Mountain" is a pretty interesting book. The book is written in a three-day format and there is a lot of information in it. The main character, John, doesn't know where he fits in. His family wants him to become a preacher, but John is not sure if he wants to. Everyone expects him to be a good kid, unlike his younger brother. His father is very cruel to his family, especially John and his brother. His mother is kind to the family, but John wonders why she is distant. John also is confused about his church. Every time someone does something wrong, they have to confess it with shouting and screaming to be forgiven. He also doesn't fit in the church and has to behave in the services. Everyone around him seems to be struggling with an inner thing that they can't seem to let go of. His aunt struggles with her childhood and her hatred toward her mother and brother. John's mother struggles with her life that she had before she married John's father. John's father struggles with the bad things he has done in the past that has affected the people around him. Also John struggles with his father. He has hatred towards his father because of all the things he has done to his family. His father looks at him with hate in his eyes and John wished he wasn't his father. John's brother likes to get into trouble and is constantly warned not to, but he never heeds to these warnings. He is also lazy and doesn't like to help around when it is needed. John and his sisters, Sarah and Baby Ruth, usually get along and Sarah is always a good child. I think that the author did a pretty good job on the characters. I think that the author is trying to get the message across that people can go through struggles in their life and that it will get better with time. I think that the author did a good job on this book, except for a few parts. I think that the most important part in the book is the ending. I think that is the most important part because everything is a lot better for all of the characters at the end. Everything seems to turn out right in the ending and things look a lot better for John.

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  • Posted September 13, 2011

    Intense

    Does one ever understand the problems of this world? John Grimes a Fourteen year old boy, the main character in Go Tell it On the Mountain suffers from abuse from his father Gabriel who favors his biological son Roy (short for Royal) greatly over his step son John. Gabriel is the pastor of a black Harlem church, he talks a good game, but he doesn't live up to his words. He is very violent verbally and physically to his family and considering he claims to be a christian he is very hypocritical. As one may notice John isn't exactly blessed with a loving father, or brother for that matter.

    In fact the only people that really care for John whatsoever is his mother Elizabeth who is kind, sweet, loving and gentle. She too suffers from Gabriel's abuse and adultery but we'll get to that later. Next there's Elisha who John longs to be like. He is a very understanding young leader in the church. Last but not least his little sister Ruth who is very young but loves John also. The child favoritism in this book is overwhelming and it's hard to imagine what John goes through in this novel. Roy is John's step brother he is very rebellious and he has no regard for anyone but himself. He is cruel to John and is constantly getting into trouble which eventually causes him to receive a gashed forehead from mucking around with some caucasians.

    Let's move on to Elizabeth. She suffers from not only the abuse from Gabriel as mentioned earlier but adultery! Gabriel may be a so called a "man of God" but he is not strong enough to resist the empowering temptation, the irresistible desire of flesh and flesh itself. The woman who lead Gabriel out of his covenant with his wife was named Esther a whiskey drinking slut who want's nothing in the farthest to do with Jesus Christ Lord and Savior. She tortures Gabriel with lust for nine days he then ends the relationship returning to his forgiving and faithful wife.

    In this novel the author makes a strong point that life in Harlem New York in the 1930's was no walk in the park. Between his monstrous father, his rule ignoring brother, his annoying aunt Florence the sister of Gabriel who is always in everyone's business and self exalted whites. John is just a neglected Fourteen year old boy stuck in the middle. I would not exactly call this book a fun entertainer! It is somewhat exiting but very dark, often sad and extremely suspenseful. It is a good read but for those who don't want to feel pain (the pain of John Grimes) you have the wrong book. But it will help you understand the problems of this world.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2010

    A Good Book- Go Tell It on the Mountain

    Family heartaches, misunderstandings, and somehow love are all wrapped up in James Baldwin's novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain. The main character, John, is growing up and has to make some difficult decisions. Religion is a big part of John's life especially since his father is a Reverend. John does not know whether he should listen to his parents or do what he thinks is right. John's father, Reverend Gabriel Grimes, struggles with John stubbornness. In fact he does not like John altogether. John's mother, Elisabeth, understands him and has a more loving and caring heart toward him. John's relationship with his parents is complicated. John has one relationship with a friend that he feels completely understands him. His name is Elisha. Elisha is close in age to John. He understands the pressure that is on him be his father. Elisha helps him with one of the most important decisions in John life.

    John's mother and Father have had rough lives themselves. In the book they have flashbacks of themselves and what they had been though. Gabriel thinks about how his father left him at a young age and how his mother became very sick. His mother everyday would lay on her bed and cry out to the lord and pray that her son would come out of his sin. He thinks about how thankful his is to have come out of that sin. Elisabeth has a flashback about John's real father and how he died. She wishes there was some way to make her family better. She wants Gabriel to love John as his own. This brings her heartache everyday.

    John's family lives in New York around the nineteen Fifties. Living in New York has its temptations. John's father wants to protect his family from the world. So, John's father will not allow them to play or interact with the neighbors. This is one of the reasons why John and his father do not get along. John wants to be with the world. John's father only lets them go to church and school. This is love displayed by how his father does care who John is around and how he would act around them. One night, Elisha and John have to set up for a prayer meeting. Little does John know that this prayer meeting will change the coarse of his life. Maybe things will start to go in the right direction.

    John's mothers heartaches, his fathers misunderstandings, and love is what makes this a good book. The family's struggles are easy to relate to. James Baldwin knows how to get the readers attention with his own experiences. This is a well thought out book. I would recommend this book for older readers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2010

    A Must Read novel!

    Go Tell It on the Mountain is a novel I greatly enjoyed. It was a joy to read, and had a good lesson on what not to base your decisions on tucked in it. In the book, John struggles with a religious strict life, a clash with his father, and being a teenager. The author also writes about the life of his father, aunt, and mother. And tells about the decisions they had to make and struggles they faced. This book is a great book for everyone to read, but especially teens, because that time where you are going from a child to an adult and face many challenges and mixed emotion.

    When I first read the gist of the book it didn't sound that interesting, and although I'm a book worm, it didn't really seem like my type of book, but as I began to read more I got caught up in the story and found that as a teen I can relate John's life to mine and that he and I had similar problems and ways of thinking. I became very intrigued and couldn't wait to find out what decision he made. I didn't want to put the book down!

    This book is full of wisdom. It showed that even though two people are in the same situation they can make completely different decisions. Just like John, and Roy. It also tells about the decisions of several of John's family members that based on how they felt about someone else and the bad results - such as John's aunt. The setting in of the book is the early 1900's so the character's being African American dealt with the issue of racism, though I don't believe it was the authors focal point, it did have quite a big role on how the story fits together.

    Although the book isn't a mystery or even a big adventure it has its own little twist in the end. In some books the element of surprise is the only thing that makes them good, but in this book it's the author's understanding of what John felt and thought, and the lesson that I got out of it -which is not to base ones decisions on how you feel about someone else but rather what is right for you. James Baldwin did an excellent job in teaching the lesson without saying it directly. There are very few books that I enjoy enough to remember much about them, but Go Tell It on the Mountain is one of my all time favorites. It was amazing to see that even in a different time, setting, gender and race, there is someone who -although is a fictional book character- thinks the way I do faced the same problems as I did. Over all I absolutely enjoyed it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2006

    Go Tell it on The Mountain.

    Go Tell it on The Mountain was a really interesting book. In the novel religion is what the characters strongly believe in. Religion is mentioned throughout the novel. Gabriel is one of the main characters that is strongly into religion. More important in the novel many characters are learned in one day, since the story happens in just one day. Resulting from that the novel has chapters about each important character. In Go Tell it on The Mountain it was not hard to follow along, different repetitions and patterns occurred that made the book interesting. In the novel it was easy to follow along and understand what was going on. In each chapter of the novel there is a main character that is talking and telling about their life. For example on (pg 69) it starts off with Florence¿s prayer. In this chapter Florence talks about what happened to her in her life. Florence talks about how when she was young and Gabriel was the main focus to her mother. Florence really hated that her mother preferred Gabriel since he was a boy. The boy usually had more privileges back then, due to believing that the man had to keep up the family. So the boy of the family had the privilege of going to school and working like Gabriel did. For this reason Florence hated Gabriel because Florence had to stay home and do all the house work instead of getting an education. Moreover, Florence leaves to New York and leaves her mother on her death bed. In conjunction with that there was a chapter with Gabriel¿s prayer. In this chapter Gabriel marries Deborah , since Gabriel thinks that god sent him the message to get married with Deborah. Also in this chapter Gabriel the reverend was asked to be part of the Twenty -Four Elders Revival Meeting. Strangely Gabriel did not want to be part since he felt that he had sinned too much. But then Gabriel thought that it was the hand of god that had called him out. For this reason Gabriel did join the Twenty-four Elders Revival Meeting. As much as possible there was repetitions and patterns that occurred throughout the novel. One repetition that I noticed happened very often was Gabriel getting messages from god. Throughout the novel Gabriel got married a couple of times, and he was getting married because he thought that god was sending him the message to do it. Remarkably Gabriel was a very religious person, but Gabriel went around sleeping with other women always thinking that god was going to forgive me. Another repetition that occurred often in this novel was that the Grimes family went to church very often to praise the lord. The church was part of the Grimes life, so they mentioned how the Grimes even cleaned the church and helped out a lot in the church. In the beginning of the book, the author mentioned that John, Gabriel¿s son, was going to be a preacher when he grew up, just like his father. Towards the end of the book, John is saved by the lord, and John feels closer to the lord than ever. I think that there was a pattern in the fact the John was saved by the lord. John hated his father Gabriel because Gabriel always treated him bad. I thought that John would also get to hate his father¿s religion but he didn¿t. More important social issue that this novel addresses are many. One of the issues that I think that they mention very much is about people that are the most religious are still human beings. Religious people are still sinners and they still do the things that a non-religious person would do. What the novel addresses is that not even the priest are prefect human beings. In the novel they mention that Gabriel, the Reverend is really into his religion. Gabriel preaches a lot but Gabriel also sins very much. Gabriel even though he thinks that he is very close to god he still sleeps around with girls. The novel is really addressing this issue by telling all the bad things that Gabriel is doing wrong. Another example about Gabriel still being a human being even though he is very close to god

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2006

    Stereotypes

    The novel Got Tell It on the Mountain explores different aspects of hypocrisy and stereotyping like race, religion, and sex. If you enjoy reading about a wife beating Minster and his family then definitely read this book Go Tell It on the Mountain stereotypes race in many aspects. Just because Roy is black living in New York, he is a teenager. Therefore his stereotype is being part of a gang, which he is in in this novel. The older son John, is very smart, a bookworm, you could say also very stereotypical. The father Gabriel is a Minster at a predominantly black church. In most cultures they believe the more influence of African Americans on a church the more outgoing and spiritual the church is compared to the average Caucasian church, this book definitely shows this. The church that Gabriel preaches at like to sing and feel free to be spiritual how ever they want. Religion, is a sticky issue. Some of the incidents were hard for me to understand. For instance the fact that Gabriel goes to the pulpit every Sunday and preaches at his church on the different aspects of being a good Christian, and living life by the ten commandments. He explores the Bible and would pull different verses to explain his point and help the congregation better understand. But in turn, Gabriel would then go home to his wife and children and raise a hand to them. He yells and talks negatively to his family, but supposedly is the role model for living the ideal life of a Christian. He does not get along with his sister Florence. She is just coming back around the family now that Gabriel and Florence¿s mother has died. She also has just found out that she is very ill and does not have much time. Gabriel begs her to come to church, and she finally agrees. Regardless of Florence¿s motives she is still in church trying to improve her spiritual life. Gabriel is so angered and can not look past the fact that she is not there for the right reasons. Gabriel is also unhappy with his current wife Elizabeth. He is angered by the fact that she has a child by another man.

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