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James Baldwin

James Baldwin

"I am what time, circumstance, history, have made of me, certainly, but I am also, much more than that. So are we all."

James Arthur Baldwin (August 2, 1924 – December 1, 1987) was an American novelist, playwright, essayist, poet, and activist. His essays, as collected in Notes of a Native Son, explore intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in Western societies, but most notably in mid-20th-century United States. 
Baldwin's novels, short stories, and plays fictionalize fundamental personal questions and dilemmas amid complex social and psychological pressures. Themes of masculinity, sexuality, race, and class intertwine to create complex narratives that run parallel with some of the major political movements towards social change in mid-twentieth century America, such as the Civil Rights Movement and the Gay Liberation Movement. Baldwin's titular characters are often, but not exclusively, African American. Gay and bisexual men also frequently feature as protagonists in his literature. These characters often face internal and external obstacles in their search for societal and self-acceptance. Such dynamics are prominent in Baldwin's second novel, Giovanni's Room, written in 1956, well before the Gay Liberation Movement.