Thursday, February 11, 2021

the last book I ever read (Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own, excerpt eleven)

from Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own by Eddie S. Glaude Jr.:

Baldwin did not come to this realization in America. He came to it, mostly, during an extended stay in Istanbul, Turkey, where he lived on and off for roughly a decade. Unlike in Paris, he was not yet famous in Istanbul. The city had long offered him solace, and the quiet space to get his work done. It was here that he either started or completed some of his more important work, including Another Country, The First Next Time, Blues for Mister Charlie, Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone, and No Name in the Street. But between 1968 and 1972, Istanbul helped Baldwin make sense of the collapse of the civil rights movement. From this ancient, complex landscape that balanced Islam and Christianity, he conceived of how he would more forward not only in his creative work but in his work as a witness. This place at the intersection of Europe and Asia, a city among the ruins of a long-lost empire, in a country that struggled to imagine itself as modern in a world overrun by U.S. power, offered Baldwin the distance necessary to look back and the love of his friends to staunch his wounds and tend to his scars.

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