James Baldwin Quotes

Who was James Baldwin?

James Arthur Baldwin was an American writer best known for his books 'Go Tell It on the Mountain' and 'If Beale Street Could Talk'.

Born August 2, 1924
Died December 1, 1987
Aged 63 years old

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Best 78 Quotes by James Baldwin – Page 1 of 3

“A child cannot be taught by anyone who despises him, and a child cannot afford to be fooled.”

“All art is a kind of confession, more or less oblique. All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story; to vomit the anguish up.”

“American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.”

“Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.”

“Be careful what you set your heart upon – for it will surely be yours.”

“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”

“Confronted with the impossibility of remaining faithful to one's beliefs, and the equal impossibility of becoming free of them, one can be driven to the most inhuman excesses.”

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“Education is indoctrination if you're white – subjugation if you're black.”

“Europe has what we do not have yet, a sense of the mysterious and inexorable limits of life, a sense, in a word, of tragedy. And we have what they sorely need: a sense of life's possibilities.”

“Every legend, moreover, contains its residuum of truth, and the root function of language is to control the universe by describing it.”

“Everybody's journey is individual. If you fall in love with a boy, you fall in love with a boy. The fact that many Americans consider it a disease says more about them than it does about homosexuality.”

“Fires can't be made with dead embers, nor can enthusiasm be stirred by spiritless men. Enthusiasm in our daily work lightens effort and turns even labor into pleasant tasks.”

“Freedom is not something that anybody can be given. Freedom is something people take, and people are as free as they want to be.”

“Hatred, which could destroy so much, never failed to destroy the man who hated, and this was an immutable law.”

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

“I can't believe what you say, because I see what you do.”

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“Don’t complain, don’t explain.”


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“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.”

“I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”

“I want to be an honest man and a good writer.”

“I've always believed that you can think positive just as well as you can think negative.”

“If the concept of God has any validity or any use, it can only be to make us larger, freer, and more loving. If God cannot do this, then it is time we got rid of Him.”

“If the relationship of father to son could really be reduced to biology, the whole earth would blaze with the glory of fathers and sons.”

“If you really want to know something about solitude, become famous.”

“If you're treated a certain way you become a certain kind of person. If certain things are described to you as being real they're real for you whether they're real or not.”

“It is a great shock at the age of five or six to find that in a world of Gary Coopers you are the Indian.”

“It is a very rare man who does not victimize the helpless.”

“It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.”

“It is only in his music, which Americans are able to admire because a protective sentimentality limits their understanding of it, that the Negro in America has been able to tell his story.”

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“It is very nearly impossible to become an educated person in a country so distrustful of the independent mind.”

“It took many years of vomiting up all the filth I’d been taught about myself, and half-believed, before I was able to walk on the earth as though I had a right to be here.”

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“Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Do not bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.”


More quotes by William Faulkner

 
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