What I’m Reading: Go Tell it on the Mountain

                I guess you all know, or can figure, that I am a lover of literature.  Since I was a child, my fingertips grazed the pages of text that were  old, older and ancient.   I started off with Langston Hughes, and from there, a whole door of authors from different literary periods of the late 1800s to the 1970s have eaten up all of my reading moments.  This adventure began when I was 8 years old and a lot of people wondered if I was truly digesting the text for the nutritional value that it was supposed to give.  At that moment in my life, I believed so because I devoured those specific texts over and over again until I read up portions of the library no one had ventured into in a long time.
The funny thing is, 21 years later, I am up to the same old habits, but I have a better understanding of the text that I’m devouring.  It tastes so good, like an unquenchable thirst for the sweetest honey that coats the bottom of my throat and enriches my soul.
I’ve been hanging out at the library a lot lately and I stumbled upon a book that I read a long time ago by one of my favorite authors.  I picked it up and swept the re-mastered covering of the book.  It looked beautiful.  There was a photograph of the author standing against an Uptown New York skyline.  He had his normal face—the expression that I’ve seen of him on all of the pictures that was taken of him during his literary career.  He looked fascinating so I grabbed the book again and decided that it would be my next literary banquet along with another book by Alice Walker and some poetry by Nikki Giovanni.

“Part One The Seventh Day
And the Spirit and the bride say, Come.
And let him that heareth say, Come.
And let him that is the athirst come.
And whosoever will, let him take
                The water of life freely.”

“Everyone had always said that John would be a preacher when he grew up, just like his father.”

  The book that I’m reading currently is “Go Tell it on the Mountain” by James Baldwin.  You can say, if you are knowledgeable about the life of Baldwin, that this is an autobiographical text of sort.  The setting is in the same place of Baldwin’s childhood, and the events mirror a lot of the events that happened in his life.  The protagonist John has to deal with pressures from everyone around him early in his life because he seems that he has been advanced for his age with his learning and his involvement in church.  We learn later in the text that John has mental struggles because of the pressures that are being put on him by everyone around him, especially his father who later turns out to be his stepfather.   During the first part of the book, John has a very special birthday in his life and we see that he starts to become a man in his thoughts and wishes.

“Go Tell it on the Mountain” is written in the beautiful language that we see in all of Baldwin’s works.  I’ve had the privilege to read a lot of his short works recently and fell in love all over again with the beauty of his writing and the beauty of the reality that seeps through the protagonist of each work.  They all seem to be a bit of him coming through the fiction of the stories and that in itself makes each work personable and lovely.

This is Baldwin’s first major published literary work and it demonstrates his literary style so brilliantly.  His approach is also of that of the post modernists with a twinge of characteristics of the literary works of the Harlem Renaissance.  My favorite parts of the book are when Baldwin quotes different works of the Bible with eloquence due to reference in the specific text itself.  The liner note on the dust jacket of the book states that the book is written ‘in a new language of lyrical precision, psychological directness, resonating symbolic power, and a rage that is at once unrelenting and compassionate…’  That took my thoughts exactly about this novel.  I’ll keep you updated on my journey with John through his struggle to his identity.  In all cases, happy reading and I hope that I inspired you to pick up a literary classic.

“Part Two: The Prayers of the Saints
And they cried with a loud voice, saying,

How long, O Lord, holy and true,

                                   dost thou not judge and avenge our blood           

        on them that dwell on the earth?”


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