James Baldwin

Literary Birthday – 2 August – James Baldwin

James Baldwin was born 2 August 1924, and died 1 December 1987.


  1. You write in order to change the world … if you alter, even by a millimetre, the way people look at reality, then you can change it.
  2. Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up.
  3. You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.
  4. Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.
  5. The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.
  6. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.
  7. People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simply; by the lives they lead.
  8. I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.
  9. I can’t believe what you say, because I see what you do.
  10. Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time.

James Baldwin was an American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic. He is well known for his essays, collected in Notes of a Native Son, and his first novel, Go Tell It On The Mountain.

Source for Image: Allan warren, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons


Amanda Patterson by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 2nd August 2014