Go Tell It on the Mountain

Go Tell It on the Mountain

by James Baldwin

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Go Tell It on the Mountain 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 56 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This first masterwork by James Baldwin represents one of the most penetrating, eloquent, and original visions in American literature. The crisis of black spirituality in a land constantly negating black humanity is not a tale easily told, yet Baldwin did so with a rare degree of power, beauty, and courage. The reasons this novel is generally described as a classic are evident on every page.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Drawn-out, overly descriptive, and at times hard to follow. Go Tell It On The Mountain by James Baldwin tells the story of the deep spiritual struggle of a fourteen year old black boy growing up in a Harlem community in the 1930¿s. At times, the book sounds almost poetic until an abrupt, and occasionally disturbing, flash back jumps at you from out of nowhere. Eventually, the story turns into somewhat of a bad soap opera with adultery, gangs, attempted murder, child abuse, suicide, and rape. Baldwin has shown through this book his mastery of fitting someone¿s life story into a single sentence as he attempted to do several times, losing the reader mid sentence. Baldwin also went on for pages describing dust in a house and adulterous moments-a euphemism of course. I can certainly agree with New York Times'review, ¿ with vivid imagery and lavish attention to details.¿ But I never imagined it to be this bad. Where details lacked in some areas, they grew like weeds in others. Attention to details many people do not want to hear about proliferated, distracting from the supposed focus of the book, the spiritual struggles of a teenage boy. In five words or less: sick, twisted and way to long. So, if you are looking for a soap opera-like book which could have easily been 200 pages shorter go to your nearest bookstore and purchase Go Tell It On The Mountain by James Baldwin.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I understood most of the book, but eventually had a strong recognition tp it. When I saw the movie, i was like, 'Oh, so that's what happened!' I has a full comprehension of the book after I watched the movie
Guest More than 1 year ago
For a quick read, James Baldwin¿s novel may be suitable, but coming from a classroom setting, almost unsatisfactory. Although Go Tell it on the Mountain is written by an important figure in African American Literature, I did not enjoy reading this book on many accounts, which range from summary, story structure, and my disliking of the characters. The story begins with the family in Go Tell it on the Mountain getting ready to go to church. Religion plays a very important part and the most important people are part of the church. John, one of the main characters, has been watching people amongst his family being ¿saved¿ and beginning a new life all the time. He wakes up on his fourteenth birthday feeling nothing different and none of his family members even acknowledge even a `happy birthday¿ to him. His mother, Elizabeth comes around to it, gives him some money and sends him on his way. John is scared someone from the church might see him downtown, so he runs into the movie theater. While he is gone, his brother Roy gets into trouble and gets stabbed. John comes home to his father, Gabriel, being very upset with him, Roy wounded, Elizabeth crying and his Aunt Florence yelling at Gabriel. Everyone is upset at everyone and so trouble follows. Gabriel ends up slapping Elizabeth and then beats Roy for taking up for his mother. Aunt Florence calls him out on being a stereotypic black man all the while John is just standing back, witnessing everything. After that, the family goes to church as if nothing happened. Florence rarely goes to church, so in this case, John knew she must have been near her deathbed. The novel then goes into depth about her past and Gabriel¿s as well, since they are siblings. Following the description of Florence¿s past, Gabriel¿s past and Elizabeth¿s past, it takes the reader to the end of the book. After a few days after John¿s fourteenth birthday, the story ends. One point I did not like about Go Tell it on the Mountain, was that the story took place only within a few days and nothing too significant happens. The reason why nothing happens is because majority of the novel details almost all of the character¿spasts. The reader knows very little about the main character John, but jumps into Florence¿s past along with all the decisions she¿s had to make, Gabriel¿s past with all of the irrational and religious behavior and Elizabeth¿s quiet past. While reading through the character¿s lives, they were interesting and gave the reader clear descriptions of each personality. Unfortunately I expected it to come to a point in the story and it did not. As soon as the novel flashes back to the present year of the novel, 1935, the book is practically over and the character¿s past hardly had anything to do with the plot. Although, James Baldwin wrote about many discussion worthy and prominent topics, like children out of wedlock, hypocrisy and male and female roles I did not find the backgrounds to serve as any argument in the story. Baldwin should have brought the detail of the character¿s lives to around full circle and made them play a more significant role in the novel, especially the ending. What actually makes the novel are the characters inside it, but in Go Tell in on the Mountain¿s case, the characters are my least favorite. To pinpoint the term main character on one person in this novel can be confusing because two of them can be considered main character. Starting with the most obvious one, John, right at first he seemed different and slower. Slower meaning possibly autistic because he has a hard time making social connections with people yet he excels in school. Everyone in the church though John would follow in Gabriel¿s footsteps and become a preacher, but John did not care if he did or did not. He was afraid of many things, such as sin. At one point, J
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a first novels go, I thought this particular title was excellent, even brilliant at times. The author did particularly well in illustrating the difficulties faced by successive generations of African-Americans in the early 20th century. His character sketches of John and the rest of the Grimes family are very well done in my opinion. Baldwin initially gives the reader a very limited portrait of the adults, and then reveals in one layer after another how the choices and compromises each was forced to make in a racist and misogynistic society in turn affected their relationships with one another and the succeeding generation as represented by the protagonist. A word finally about some of the comments by other reviewers on this page. Many of them seem to focus on the novel's lack of a thriller-like plot or structure and 'lavish attention to detail.' However, this is the novel's principal strength in my opinion. It allows Baldwin's narrative to tell some uncomfortable truths about African-Americans, both men and women, and perhaps most importantly about America itself that a 'thriller-like plot' would never be able to accomplish in the same way. From the many errors in spelling, grammar and syntax that were evident in the reviews I read on this page, it is clear that the fault most likely lies with their inability to comprehend the complex social issues and historical insights that the author is dealing with in this novel, rather than any shortcoming of the book itself. I hope that they can reconsider their attitudes toward the novel and the rest of Baldwin's work at a later time in their lives when they've acquired more enlightenment (as well as education). I'm sure that their reading of the novel will be the richer for it.
Sean191 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not every writer has his or her first novel become a classic. James Baldwin is among a select few, with good reason.Go Tell It on the Mountain is powerful, heartbreaking, heartbreaking powerful and powerfully heartbreaking. It gives a glimpse into a American past that many don't remember, some can't and others are still living. It gives insight into the hypocrisy of faith, while at the same time reaffirming the power of pure faith. It does the same with love, race and social class. Not bad for a first novel.
TheAmpersand on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Go Tell It On the Mountain" is a difficult novel to read and a difficult novel to write about. I came to it, I suppose, expecting something like Richard Wright's "Native Son" or Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man," explicitly political mid-century novels by black Americans which pressaged the civil rights movement. "Go Tell It On the Mountain" is something else, a more personal, inward-looking book that spends more time looking at the ways in which poverty and social injustice grind people down than describing the social injustice itself. There are, in a other words, very few white people and a whole lot of sadness to be found in this novel's pages. Most of Baldwin's characters have been through the worst that life can offer, and, Baldwin bucks modern literary expectations by showing that these experiences haven't made all of his characters wiser or stronger. Many of the people we meet in "Go Tell It On the Mountain" lead small, sorrowful, or tortured existences, stuck on the periphery of the communities that are supposed to support them. Baldwin is also a thrillingly good writer, delivering his narrative in spare, forceful, hard-edged prose, but he's not your average short-sentence minimalist. He's also capable of borrowing the sway and power of biblical language without making his prose seem stuffy or grandiose, a feat only the best writers are able to pull off. I'm not surprised that Norman Mailer saw fit to call Baldwin one of America's few real writers. Baldwin's almost unbelievably ambitious, too, taking on the impossible job of describing a mystical experience at length -- and perhaps even succeeding -- while at the same time questioning religion's central role in the lives of his characters. "Go Tell It On the Mountain" is a slow, difficult book; I had to double-back several times while reading it and knew before I finished it that it deserved a re-reading. Still, Baldwin leaves no doubt that he can write rings around most of the authors on your bookshelf. I've certainly read more enjoyable novels than this one, but the combination of talent and skill that Baldwin displays in "Go Tell It On the Mountain" left me impressed, almost awestruck. Highly recommended.
UmdlotiLover on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Important book... Beautifully and fiercely written.
kambrogi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This American literary classic has the capacity to blow your mind as thoroughly today as it did in 1952. Told alternately through the eyes of 14-year-old John, his father, his mother and his aunt, Baldwin sketches in a brutal and uplifting family tale that is so much more than the sum of its parts. It takes us all the way from the Middle Passage to the Great Migration, the two most important journeys of the African American people, by gathering together the small events and massive secrets that are carried in the hearts of its characters. As we read our way through an evangelical church service that moves each of its members, we are enlightened again and again by their travels back in time. We discover why the father seems so cold, what the aunt has lost, when the mother found herself so bereft, and ultimately how John can be saved. In only 226 pages, Baldwin¿s first novel tells a story as huge as America, and every American inclined to meditate on who we are should read it.
roblong on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very intense, and a fascinating insight into a way of life and a point in time. The novel introduces John, a 14-year-old boy supposedly destined to be a preacher, like his father ¿ a man he fears and hates. John¿s father Gabriel is a fire and brimstone preacher who beats his sons and spreads terror everywhere he goes. Gabriel¿s previous life, and that of his wife and his sister, are told in flashbacks that show how the family have got to this point. The book is set in 1935, and the older generation are all escapees of the South, born to parents who had lived in slavery. The first section in particular I thought was amazing, it really grabbed me from page 1, and barely let up until the end.
bookworm87 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was an interesting and absorbing book. It provided a look into the spiritual lives of African-Americans in the early 1900's. The book deals with prejudice, struggle against sin, and conversion--with the entire story not encompassing no more than two days. It seems to be a story about sin and the freedom of redemption, telling the reader that although the past is never forgotten, it is possible to change one's life. Overall, I liked the book, and it was not hard to read and it engaged my attention. I may have actually learned a little bit, too!
Clurb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
John is the young son of a black preacher fighting for the love of his family, his church and his god in turbulent downtown Harlem. Whilst John as a character was very engaging I lost interest in the story about half way through because of the writing style.
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"Go Tell it on the Mountain" is a pretty interesting book. The book is written in a three-day format and there is a lot of information in it. The main character, John, doesn't know where he fits in. His family wants him to become a preacher, but John is not sure if he wants to. Everyone expects him to be a good kid, unlike his younger brother. His father is very cruel to his family, especially John and his brother. His mother is kind to the family, but John wonders why she is distant. John also is confused about his church. Every time someone does something wrong, they have to confess it with shouting and screaming to be forgiven. He also doesn't fit in the church and has to behave in the services. Everyone around him seems to be struggling with an inner thing that they can't seem to let go of. His aunt struggles with her childhood and her hatred toward her mother and brother. John's mother struggles with her life that she had before she married John's father. John's father struggles with the bad things he has done in the past that has affected the people around him. Also John struggles with his father. He has hatred towards his father because of all the things he has done to his family. His father looks at him with hate in his eyes and John wished he wasn't his father. John's brother likes to get into trouble and is constantly warned not to, but he never heeds to these warnings. He is also lazy and doesn't like to help around when it is needed. John and his sisters, Sarah and Baby Ruth, usually get along and Sarah is always a good child. I think that the author did a pretty good job on the characters. I think that the author is trying to get the message across that people can go through struggles in their life and that it will get better with time. I think that the author did a good job on this book, except for a few parts. I think that the most important part in the book is the ending. I think that is the most important part because everything is a lot better for all of the characters at the end. Everything seems to turn out right in the ending and things look a lot better for John.
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