Lot 835

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835. JAMES BALDWIN (1924 - 1987) African-American novelist, short story writer, and essayist, known for his novel Go Tell it on the Mountain. An incredible grouping of material, an original working typed manuscript of an article for The Reporter, written as "Encounter on the Seine: Black Meets Brown" June 6, 1950, which Baldwin had titled "The Negro in Paris" two years before, and appears as such in his Collected Essays. In November 1948, Baldwin used funds from a literary scholarship to go to Paris, armed with a few dollars in his pocket but a contact with Richard Wright, author of the acclaimed novel Native Son. Paris, despite its own brand of racial discrimination, was a welcoming place for the young writer, who commented that his emigration to Paris was "the best thing I had ever done", and adding that "In Paris...I didn't feel socially attacked, but relaxed, and that allowed me to be loved". Wright took the 24-year old nascent writer under his wing, eventually introducing him to his publisher. It was there, in Paris, that Baldwin wrote, over his six years' tenure there, the definitive novel of his body of work, Go Tell It on the Mountain, as well as his collection of essays Notes of a Native Son, his ode to Wright. The T.Ms.S. was recovered from a fire, with some loss of text at margins as a result, but offers an amazing, intimate look into the creation of one of Baldwin's best known works. It is 8pp. 4to., and contains holograph emendations throughout, with three T.L.S. sending the article and describing its content. The manuscript reads, in very small part: "...If it were not for the gregarious presence of the Negro entertainer one might be led to believe that there were almost no American Negroes in Paris at all...Their non-performing, colored countrymen are, nearly to a man, incomparably more isolated and this isolation is deliberate. This is not difficult to understand if one bears in mind the axiom, unquestioned by American landlords, that Negroes are happy only when the are kept together...The American Negro in Paris is forced at last to exercise an undemocratic discrimination almost never practiced by Americans...The white American regards his darker brother through the distorting screen created by a lifetime of conditioning. He is accustomed to regard him as either a needy and deserving martyr or as a soul of rhythm, but he is more than a little intimidated to find this stranger so many miles from home...creating in the air between the two thus met an intolerable atmosphere of anger...The ambivalence of his status is thrown into relief by his encounters with the Negro students from France's colonies who live in Paris...In Paris the African Negro's status, conspicuous, and subtly inconvenient, is that of a colonial; and he leads here an intangibly precarious life...His bitterness is unlike that of his American kinsman in that it is not so treacherously likely to be turned against himself...yet what the American is seeing is not simply the poverty of the student but the enormous gap between the European and American standards of living. All of the students in the Latin Quarter live in ageless, sinister looking hotels; they are all forced continually to choose between cigarette and cheese at lunch...the poverty and anger which the American Negro sees must be related to Europe and not to America. yet, as he wishes for a moment that he were home again...there begins to race inside him, like the despised beat of the tom-tom, echoes of a past which he has not yet been able to utilize, intimations of a responsibility which he has not yet been able to face...The European tends to avoid the really monumental confusion which might result from an attempt to comprehend the relationship of the forty-eight states to one another, clinging instead to such information as is afforded by radio, press and film, to anecdotes considered to be illustrative of American life...The American Negro cannot explain to the African what surely seems in himself t be a want of manliness, of racial pride, a maudlin ability to forgive...Perhaps it occurs to him that in this need to establish himself in relation to his past he is not American, that this depthless alienation from oneself and one's people is, in sum, the American experience...It is on this dangerous voyage and in the same boat that the American Negro will make peace with himself and with the voiceless many thousands gone before him...". Much more. The three T.L.S. are all to Mr. Rodman of The Reporter, indicating the inspiration of the article, and on July 10, 1952 Baldwin writes: "...This project...is an examination...of the status of black men in the world today, their status and psychology being compared...to that of the American Negro...I hope this does not sound too vague...". The two other T.L.S.'s refer to the sending of the article. A fascinating look into the author's work. Surprisingly few losses despite recovery of the documents from a fire, overall quite complete, and certainly a rare find. Worthy of future research. $1,000 - 1,500

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