Nobody Knows My Name


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BALDWIN, James. Nobody Knows My Name. More Notes of a Native Son. New York: Dial, 1962. Octavo, original half black cloth, original dust jacket.

First edition, later printing, of Baldwin's major second book of essays, featuring his powerful analyses of the politics of race and his controversial three-part essay on Richard Wright.

"As the son of a preacher man, the grandson of a slave, and a witness to America, Baldwin's voice continues to cry out" (Field, Historical Guide, 9). This collection of 13 essays, written from 1954-1961, speaks to the "years in which Baldwin faced the question of identity… It is this theme of the 'graver questions of self,' questions of the inner effects of racism and other masks, that concern Baldwin in Nobody Knows My Name. You don't know my name because you can't see me, these essays say. You see only the mask you have made me wear." Baldwin tackles the politics of race in "Princes and Powers"; "Fifth Avenue, Uptown"; "East River, Downtown"; 'A Fly in Buttermilk"; "Faulkner and Desegregation"; "In Search of a Majority," and in the title essay. "In the essays on Gide, Bergman, Wright and Mailer, which make up the second half of the book, Baldwin attempts to discover his 'name' by examining the inner worlds of other artists… He calls on America to look at itself, to tear down its myths and to regain an ability to see things as they are." Widely praised on publication, Alfred Kazin hailed it as "the spiritual biography of someone who hopes, by confronting more than one beast on his way, to see whether his fear is entirely necessary" (The Reporter). Baldwin was "commissioned by Harper's and Partisan Review to write essays on the various strategies and programs for bringing an end to racial discrimination." Three of the essays here are in that series: the title essay "Nobody Knows My Name" (Partisan Review, Winter 1959); "A Fly in Buttermilk" (titled The Hard Kind of Courage, Harper's October 1958); "Faulkner and Desegregation" (Partisan Review, Winter 1956)."These eloquent articles reveal his complex attitude toward the South… [and] are a rehearsal for The Fire Next Time, his most famous essay" (Porter in Bloom, James Baldwin, 55). First edition, fourth printing: issued the year after the first printing. Includes essays featured in The New York Book Review, Esquire, New York Times Magazine, New Leader, The Reporter and Le Preuve. Front dust jacket flap with price lined over.

A fine copy.

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