James Baldwin: A Life in Words

August 1, 2014
Opinionated and unafraid to speak his mind, Baldwin used the force of his prose to challenge and provoke. He's perhaps most well-known for his work on race, yet he also wrote eloquently about the art of reading and writing, which this list highlights. Baldwin himself said, "When one begins to live by habit and by quotation one has begun to stop living." So we hope he would forgive us for quoting ten words from his work and his life.
You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive. - The Price of the Ticket, TV interview, 1985
Nobody is more dangerous than he who imagines himself pure in heart; for his purity, by definition, is unassailable.-The Black Boy Looks at the White Boy, Esquire 1961
The primary distinction of the artist is that he must actively cultivate that state which most men, necessarily, must avoid: the state of being alone.-The Price of the Ticket, Collected Non-Fiction,1985
All art is a kind of confession, more or less oblique. All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story, to vomit the anguish up.
The Price of the Ticket, Collected Non-Fiction, 1985.
Please try to remember that what they believe, as well as what they do and cause you to endure does not testify to your inferiority but to their inhumanity.- The Fire Next Time 1963
Life is tragic simply because the earth turns, and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time.- The Fire Next Time, 1963
There are people in the world for whom "coming along" is a perpetual process, people who are destined never to arrive.- Go Tell it on the Mountain,1953
There is never time in the future in which we will work out our salvation. The challenge is in the moment; the time is always now.- The Price of the Ticket, Collected Non-Fiction 1985
The responsibility of a writer is to excavate the experience of the people who produced him.- Conversation with Nikki Giovanni, 1971
Society is held together by our need; we bind it together with legend, myth, coercion, fearing that without it we will be hurled into that void, within which, like the earth before the Word was spoken, the foundations of society are hidden.- Notes of a Native Son, 1955

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Wednesday August 6th 2014, 1:41 AM
Comment by: Fresnohye (CA)
Thank You.

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