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Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin

                    

About the Novel

David is a young American expatriate who has just proposed marriage to his girlfriend, Hella. While she is away on a trip, David meets a bartender named Giovanni to whom he is drawn in spite of himself. Soon the two are spending the night in Giovanni’s curtainless room, which he keeps dark to protect their privacy. But Hella’s return to Paris brings the affair to a crisis, one that rapidly spirals into tragedy. Caught between his repressed desires and conventional morality, David struggles for self-knowledge during one long, dark night—“the night which is leading me to the most terrible morning of my life.” With sharp, probing insight, Giovanni’s Room tells an impassioned, deeply moving story that lays bare the unspoken complexities of the human heart. 

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Excerpt From Giovanni's Room

I stand at the window of this great house in the south of France as night falls, the night which is leading me to the most terrible morning of my life. I have a drink in my hand, there is a bottle at my elbow. I watch my reflection in the darkening gleam of the window pane. My reflection is tall, perhaps rather like an arrow, my blond hair gleams. My face is like a face you have seen many times. My ancestors conquered a continent, pushing across death-laden plains, until they came to an ocean which faced away from Europe into a darker past.

I may be drunk by morning but that will not do any good. I shall take the train to Paris anyway. The train will be the same, the people, struggling for comfort and, even, dignity on the straight-backed, wooden, third-class seats will be the same, and I will be the same. We will ride through the same changing countryside northward, leaving behind the olive trees and the sea and all of the glory of the stormy southern sky, into the mist and rain of Paris. Someone will offer to share a sandwich with me, someone will offer me a sip of wine, someone will ask me for a match. People will be roaming the corridors outside, looking out of windows, looking in at us. At each stop, recruits in their baggy brown uniforms and colored hats will open the compartment door to ask Complet? We will all nod Yes, like conspirators, smiling faintly at each other as they continue through the train. Two or three of them will end up before our compartment door, shouting at each other in their heavy, ribald voices, smoking their dreadful army cigarettes. There will be a girl sitting opposite me who will wonder why I have not been flirting with her, who will be set on edge by the presence of the recruits. It will all be the same, only I will be stiller.

 

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About the Author - James Baldwin

1924-1987

James Baldwin was an essayist, playwright and novelist regarded as a highly insightful, iconic writer with works like The Fire Next Time and Another Country.
Who Was James Baldwin?
Born in 1924 in New York City, James Baldwin published the 1953 novel Go Tell It on the Mountain, going on to garner acclaim for his insights on race, spirituality and humanity. 
Other novels included Giovanni's RoomAnother Country and Just Above My Head as well as essay works like Notes of a Native Son and The Fire Next Time. Having lived in France, he died on December 1, 1987 in Saint-Paul de Vence.

Early Life

Writer and playwright James Baldwin was born August 2, 1924, in Harlem, New York. One of the 20th century's greatest writers, Baldwin broke new literary ground with the exploration of racial and social issues in his many works. He was especially known for his essays on the black experience in America.

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Other Works by James Baldwin

Another Country

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Conversations with James Baldwin

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The Devil Finds Work

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Go Tell It On the Mountain

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Just Above My Head

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Notes of a Native Son

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The Fire Next Time

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Click the image above to find more works by James Baldwin.

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