Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

*New York City

*New York City. Great northern city in whose borough of Manhattan most of the novel’s action unfolds. New York plays a determining role in the lives of the book’s eight principal characters. To the two southerners, it is a magnet that has drawn them from native surroundings that they regard as limiting and unsatisfactory in their search for a more stimulating life. Manhattan has also formed the novel’s two African American characters, Rufus Scott and his younger sister Ida, culturally and socially. The lone married couple of the novel, Richard and Cass Silenski, have most likely chosen to live in Manhattan because Richard is a writer who wishes to work amid the world of publishers and editors. Daniel Vivaldo Moore, another, but unsuccessful, writer, has a “stony affection” for New York, a city that offers him a chance to exercise his talent for friendship with its varied racial and ethnic types.

A young Frenchman named Yves persuades his male lover to return to Manhattan after a sojourn abroad, but because the former arrives, confident and hopeful, only at the end of the story, it is left to readers to imagine what the city will come to represent for him. For the others New York has proved a difficult place to live. One of the southerners leaves New York disenchanted after three years, while the other returns home, her mental health destroyed by her stormy relationship with Rufus, who thereafter commits suicide.

James Baldwin’s New York is a place where disparate and socially nonconforming people can develop intense relationships and discover exciting, if precarious, career opportunities,...

(The entire section is 677 words.)


(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Bloom, Harold, ed. James Baldwin. New York: Chelsea House, 1986. This collection of critical essays on Baldwin includes two major discussions of Another Country by Charles Newman and Roger Rosenblatt. In his introduction, Bloom sees Baldwin as a prophet whose essays are more important than his fiction.

Bloom, Harold, ed. James Baldwin. Updated ed. New York: Chelsea House, 2007. This updated edition of Bloom’s critical anthology lacks the essays by Newman and Rosenblatt, but it includes one by Carolyn Wedin Sylvander on the representation of love and sex in Another Country and Giovanni’s Room (1956).

Campbell, James. Talking at the Gates: A Life of James Baldwin. New York: Viking Press, 1991. This biography, by a man who knew Baldwin personally, is especially interesting because it draws on the Federal Bureau of Investigation files kept on Baldwin. Campbell deals frankly with Baldwin’s bisexuality. Included are sixteen pages of photographs.

Collier, Eugenia W. “The Phrase Unbearably Repeated.” In James Baldwin: A Critical Evaluation, edited by Therman B. O’Daniel. Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1977. Innovative essay on Baldwin’s use of music to advance the themes of Another Country. Also discusses the use of music to advance characterization, to convey the need for love, and to show the characters’ emotions.

Harris, Trudier. Black Women in the Fiction of James Baldwin. Knoxville:...

(The entire section is 671 words.)