James Baldwin In Exile

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In a small room in a guest house in France the clicks and clacks of a typewriter echo and the mechanical sound of artistic creation livens the air. This home is known as Saint-Paul-de-Vence and will be a destination for artists and travelers alike. For within this home there is a sturdy typewriter, but more importantly there is a man in exile with the mind and inspiration to use it. He is many things, an expatriate, an African American, and a homosexual. Most importantly though he is an artist and he is creating. This man was James Baldwin, and he authored many influential works in a state of cultural and political exile in Paris. James Baldwin is the quintessential artist in exile and his Parisian years and writings embody the artistic inspiration …show more content…

The work he created in Paris is art in exile at its most core of forms. It is art that has been crafted through his experience as an expatriate and reflects heavily the creative inspiration that this state carries. This work was not only a result of exile from his country and from the culture he was born into, but also from a sense of self and responsibility for his people and culture back in America. The idea of identity and responsibility to this identity marks all of his works. “Who is James Baldwin? That is the question embraced by Baldwin throughout his writings. He seeks desperately to define his identity as an American Negro writer and as a spokesman for his people” (Jones 107). His work is not that solely of the African American writer or the homosexual writer but stands as the writings of an artist in exile. Art and creation is an inherently personal thing and the human element within it that connects art with the self. It is the intimate and introspective nature of Baldwin’s art that reveals the levels of exile in culture and within …show more content…

It was a place of transition and also one of ignorance and hatred. The laws of Jim Crow were in place and segregation and hatred were the reality of the African American. In Notes of a Native Son Baldwin writes about his experience being asked to leave a diner, and reacting volatile to the waitress (97). This racist and unaccepting state was formative in Baldwin’s writings and in his state of being. However his homosexuality also played a key role in his state of exile, much like the African Americans the homosexual of this time was an outsider and thrown into a state of less than personhood (Gaines 177). This time period and this exile, is abhorrent but also a great catalyst for art and creation. Inspiration is born from frustration, at a society, at a culture, at the rejection of ones identity in the face of a

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