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Reading James Baldwin’s Existential Hindsight in Go Tell It on the Mountain
Miller Wilbourn

This essay reads James Baldwin’s first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, through the lenses of European existentialism and Black existential thought to arrive at a new understanding of the novel itself as well as essential stages of its development. Archival sources and close reading reveal Baldwin’s historically and existentially informed artistic vision, summed up in the terms hindsight and insight. His thoughtful, uncomfortable engagement with the past leads to a recuperated relationship to the community and constitutes existential hindsight, which informs his inward understanding of himself—his insight. This investigation draws on various works from Baldwin’s fiction, essays, interviews, and correspondence to arrive at a better understanding of the writer’s intellectual and artistic development, focusing especially on the professed objectives behind, and major revisions of, the novel. I conclude the essay through a close reading of the conversion scene that constitutes Part Three of Go Tell It on the Mountain.

James Baldwin Review
Author: Steven Earnshaw

Drinking to excess has been a striking problem for industrial and post-industrial societies – who is responsible when a ‘free’ individual opts for a slow suicide? The causes of such drinking have often been blamed on heredity, moral weakness, ‘disease’ (addiction), hedonism, and Romantic illusion. Yet there is another reason which may be more fundamental and which has been overlooked or dismissed, and it is that the drinker may act with sincere philosophical intent. The Existential Drinker looks at the convergence of a new kind of excessive, habitual drinking, beginning in the nineteenth century, and a new way of thinking about the self which in the twentieth century comes to be labelled ‘Existential’. A substantial introduction covers questions of self, will, consciousness, authenticity, and ethics in relation to drinking, while introducing aspects of Existential thought pertinent to the discussion. The Existential-drinker canon is anchored in Jack London’s ‘alcoholic memoir’ John Barleycorn (1913), where London claims he can get at the truth of existence only through the insights afforded by excessive and repeated alcohol use. The book then covers drinker-texts such as Jean Rhys’s interwar novels, Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano, Charles Jackson’s The Lost Weekend and John O’Brien’s Leaving Las Vegas, along with less well-known works such as Frederick Exley’s A Fan’s Notes, Venedikt Yerofeev’s Moscow–Petushki, and A. L. Kennedy’s Paradise. The book will appeal to anybody with an interest in drinking and literature, as well as those with more specialised concerns in drinking studies, Existentialism, twentieth-century literature, and medical humanities.

Suicide
Steven Earnshaw

actually in keeping with a core tenet of Existentialism, that the individual’s choices can only make sense to that uniquely living (experiencing) individual. Although I would argue that Leaving Las Vegas in most respects knowingly refuses to engage with Existential ideas, having ‘moved on’ from this cliché of the sixties, just as it has moved on from the trope of ‘alcoholic’, the narrative logic of it is identical to that of Camus’s The Outsider, where at the end of the novel Meursault completely accepts his own death.11 The rest of this chapter looks specifically at the

in The Existential drinker
An introduction
Neil Cornwell

of existentialism’ (ibid.), where it has become the subject (in either a general or a particular sense) of a number of monographs and has given the name to the now widely familiar ‘theatre of the absurd’ – this phrase itself having been coined by Martin Esslin in his book of that title, the first edition of which was published in 1961. Chris Baldick, in The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms (1990), explains the absurd as ‘a term derived from the existentialism of Albert Camus, and often applied to the modern sense of human purposelessness in a universe

in The absurd in literature
Abstract only
Steven Earnshaw

models of self, dealt with by questions of ‘identity’ rather than ‘authenticity’, and in a socioeconomic context which privileges consumerism and leisure, such that excessive drinking is now part of this complex, even if binge drinking attracts some measure of demonisation. The figure of the Existential drinker was at its most potent when the cultural context was most hospitable to Existentialism, but once the idea of an authentic self in the traditional Existential sense is either discredited, or appropriated in ways which have little connection with Sartre’s, de

in The Existential drinker
The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1981)
Colin Gardner

’m interested in the side of existentialism which deals with freedom: the business of whether we do have freedom, whether we do have free will, to what extent you can change your life, choose yourself, and all the rest of it. Most of my major characters have been involved in this Sartrian concept of authenticity and inauthenticity. (John Fowles) 1 The desire for verification is

in Karel Reisz
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Deconstructing existentialism and the counterculture in The Gambler (1974) and Dog Soldiers/ Who’ll Stop the Rain (1978)
Colin Gardner

perfect mirror for that character. The story could not have been set elsewhere’. 21 The novel’s Aleksey Ivanovich is now Axel Freed (James Caan) who, like Toback, is a Harvard graduate and an English Professor at a New York City College. Axel lectures on Dostoyevsky’s nascent existentialism and will-to-power as a philosophical explanation (and justification) for his own obsession with risk and chance, what Nietzsche called

in Karel Reisz
Abandonment
Steven Earnshaw

the centre of the mantelpiece, and her second act is to put a picture of the Sacred Heart at the head of the bed.2 Typical of a certain strand of Existentialism (for example, Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment), The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne portrays the shock of ‘freedom’ and the feeling of ‘abandonment’ when people either through choice or circumstance find themselves adrift of these internalised anchor points. In this Judith Hearne is a descendant of Janet Dempster from George Eliot’s tale, and anticipates some of the material in Ironweed and Paradise

in The Existential drinker
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Andrew Spicer

. Existentialism and anti-Thatcherism: 1984–91 The first phase ended abruptly with the withdrawal of American finance. 23 Later 1970s neo-noirs, notably The Squeeze (1977) in which ex-policemen Jim Naboth (Stacy Keach) has become a shambling alcoholic adrift in an increasingly vicious world, were isolated films. The second phase of neo-noir’s development was facilitated by a restructuring of investment finance

in European film noir
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Existentialist Islam as intercultural translation
Nadia Kiwan

Meddeb’s death, Cultures d’islam), Bidar attempts to sketch out the contours of what he calls a twenty-​first century Muslim existentialism (Bidar 2008/​2012a).1 Muslim existentialism emerges from what Bidar calls un islam sans soumission. Islam or Islamic belief without submission is premised on a profound desire for freedom of conscience, expression and dissent. Bidar argues that the roots of such a notion of freedom can be found in the Quran itself, which he describes as an ‘instrument of liberation’ (Bidar 2008/​2012a: p. 17) through which human beings can become

in Secularism, Islam and public intellectuals in contemporary France