"THE PREEMINENT BLACK WRITER OF HIS GENERATION": FIRST EDITION OF JAMES BALDWIN'S THE FIRE NEXT TIME
BALDWIN, James. The Fire Next Time. New York: Dial, 1963. Octavo, original ivory cloth, original dust jacket. $450.
First edition of Baldwin's explosive look at race in America—"a masterpiece."
On publication in 1963, 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, The Fire Next Time was praised as "masterful" and one of Baldwin's "most important collections of essays… his prose, with its apocalyptic tone… and its passionate yet distanced sense of advocacy… sounded a warning and a hope" about race in America" (New York Times). "The First Next Time established Baldwin as the preeminent black writer of his generation… As a masterpiece of social criticism, Baldwin's book challenged America to turn words into deeds and, failing that, excoriated the national hypocrisy that fostered white guilt without corresponding justice, and black death without corresponding remorse. Baldwin's timing proved prophetic. The year 1963 was one of turbulence punctuated by racial violence in Birmingham, the assassination of civil rights leader Medgar Evers, the murder of four little black girls at Birmingham's 16th Street Baptist Church, and the November 22 assassination of JFK" (Boyd, Baldwin's Harlem, x-xi). Containing two essays published here for the first time in book form: Down at the Cross and My Dungeon Shook: respectively serialized in The New Yorker and The Progressive. First edition, first issue: with no statement of edition or printings on the copyright page. Blockson 2829. Small bookseller notation to dust jacket front flap.
Interior fine, mild soiling to cloth as often; trace of edge-wear to bright dust jacket. A handsome near-fine copy.