Listen to New Recordings of James Baldwin
Apr 14, 2014
1 Min read time
In this brief selection, James Baldwin (1924–1987) reads from two sections of his novel, Another Country. Published in 1962, and set in Greenwich Village, Another Country traces the complex interracial relationships of a group of artists, writers, and musicians, clustered around Rufus, a jazz musician whose suicide affects them profoundly.
The final moments of Rufus Scott just before he commits suicide. As he takes the A train to Harlem, “He had thought that he would get off here and go home,” Baldwin reads. But as he does not get off, and “Suddenly he knew he was never going home anymore.”
The pastor’s sermon at Rufus’s funeral. It is an exhortation to empathy: “Ain’t none of us been there, so ain’t none of us know.”
These passages are as urgent and contemporary as they were when Baldwin read them aloud five decades ago. The readings are part of a set of literary recordings reissued in 2013 under the Calliope label by two of the three original producers, Harry and Lynne Sharon Schwartz. They were able to persuade some of the most important voices of the era to record readings of their work on 7” vinyl records. The full readings are available for purchase on the Calliope Website, and Boston Review will be posting excerpts from the series weekly.
The authors—Nelson Algren, James Baldwin, James Jones, Bernard Malamud, Philip Roth, William Styron and John Updike—became some of the leading writers of their time. Today, almost all of them are deceased, and these recordings are the some of only opportunities to hear the authors’ own interpretations of their work.
April 14, 2014
1 Min read time