The Cross of Redemption: Uncollected Writings (Vintage International)
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The Cross of Redemption is a revelation by an American literary master: a gathering of essays, articles, polemics, reviews, and interviews that have never before appeared in book form.
James Baldwin was one of the most brilliant and provocative literary figures of the past century, renowned for his fierce engagement with issues haunting our common history. In The Cross of Redemption we have Baldwin discoursing on, among other subjects, the possibility of an African-American president and what it might mean; the hypocrisy of American religious fundamentalism; the black church in America; the trials and tribulations of black nationalism; anti-Semitism; the blues and boxing; Russian literary masters; and the role of the writer in our society.
Prophetic and bracing, The Cross of Redemption is a welcome and important addition to the works of a cosmopolitan and canonical American writer who still has much to teach us about race, democracy, and personal and national identity. As Michael Ondaatje has remarked, “If van Gogh was our nineteenth-century artist-saint, Baldwin [was] our twentieth-century one.”
as a Negro, as a citizen, it has seemed to me for a long time now that the really dreadful agony confronting Americans is this: the time has come for us to grow up. A man grows up when he looks back, realizes what has happened to him, accepts it all, and begins to change himself. He cannot grow up until he reaches this moment and passes it. We are now at the end of our extraordinarily prolonged adolescence. A very great poet, an American, Miss Marianne Moore, wrote, many years ago, the following
inhabit. This world is a world we have created, we, the American Republic; and its existence gives the lie to every one of the principles in which we say we believe. In fact, the most remarkable and valuable thing about this study of Negro children in Harlem is that it does not leave one thinking about race at all. It leaves one thinking about the moral state of this country. I think that there is something suspicious about the way we cling to the concept of race, on both sides of the
doesn’t need a Stokely gloating in Havana about the hoped-for fall of the United States, and to attempt to punish him for saying what so many millions of people feel is simply to bring closer, and make yet more deadly, the terrible day. One should listen to what’s being said, and reflect on it; for many, many millions of people long for our downfall, and it is not because they are Communists. It is because ignorance is in the saddle here, and we ride mankind. Let us attempt to face the fact that
No Englishman has suggested this. Neither did Jean-Paul Sartre suggest that France be brought before an international tribunal during the war which we have inherited from France, or during the French-Algerian war. It is possible, in short, to consider the tribunal to be both misguided and inept, and I can see to what extent that this is so. But I can also see why. The tribunal, ideally, wishes to make the conscience of the world aware of the crimes being committed in Southeast Asia by the
[John F.] Kennedy is the President of this country, and it is his country, and if Senator Eastland* can be responsible in this country, and it is his country—well, it’s my country too. And that means that it’s your country too. I do not believe in the twentieth-century myth that we are all helpless, that it’s out of our hands. It’s only out of our hands if we don’t want to pick it up. And the truth about us in this country is that we have evaded it for so long. The last cooling-off period