‘He would be led into darkness, and in darkness would remain; until in some incalculable time to come the hand of God would reach down and raise him up; he, John, who having lain in darkness would no longer be himself but some other man. He would have been changed, as they said, for ever; sown in dishonour, he would be raised in honour: he would have been born again.’

– James Baldwin, Go Tell It on the Mountain 

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‘Baldwin’s career as a novelist was spent walking over old territory with ghosts. Things became new to him this way. ‘Mountain is the book I had to write if I was ever going to write anything else,’ he said years later. ‘I had to deal with what hurt me most. I had to deal with my father.’

– Andrew O’Hagan, Introduction to Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin

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‘Paris seemed, and had seemed the loneliest city under heaven. And whoever prolongs his sojourn in that city – who tries, that is, to make a home there – is doomed to discover that there is no one to be blamed for whatever happens to him.’

– James Baldwin, Another Country

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‘He did not seem to know enough about the people in his novel. They did not seem to trust him. They were all named, more or less, all more or less destined, the pattern he wished them to describe was clear to him. But it did not seem clear to them. He could move them about but they themselves did not move. He put words in their mouths which they uttered sullenly, unconvinced.’

– James Baldwin, Another Country 

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‘Both feared the morning, when the moon and stars would be gone, when this room would be harsh and sorrowful with sunlight, and this bed would be dismantled, waiting for other flesh. Love is expensive, Yves had once said, with his curiously dry wonder. One must put furniture around it, or it goes.’

– James Baldwin, Another Country

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