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Studijní text Nobody knows my name Cha9: Notes for a hypothetical novel

Race And Ethnicity In American History And Literature. Baldwin, James, Nobody Knows My Name – More Notes of a Native Son (New York, DELL Publishing, 1961) James Baldwin wrote Nobody Knows My Name after he returned from his stay in Europe where he went because he wanted to escape the usual pitfall into which the black writers fall: as African Americans, they cannot but reflect on the position of African Americans in the American society, the black community expects them to do so. So does the white community. Nobody expects them to speak on any other subject and these expectations bear heavily on fledgeling writers, to the point of making them doubt that they can mediate African American experience and, at the same time, American experience. To be both African American and American writers. His visit to Europe made him see that, in spite of the racial hatred at home, America was his home. It enabled him to see beyond his African American experience and to examine and criticize the very ideational basis of the American society – the ideal of the American Dream – not to destroy it – for it generates much positive, but to point out its negatives too. In his essays, Baldwin shows that, while Americans are taught to valorize spiritual and social mobility, they yearn, at the same time, for some stability in their life . They should not but they are just humans. They want to be able to rise without any limitation and yet they want to stop the possible fall to the bottom – to lose the position that have crafted by hard striving. So while it is completely contrary to the American ethos, Americans who have risen in life seek to perpetuate their position by creating artificial divisions. Baldwins suggests that the categories of white and black are replacements of status in the European sense – such as middle class vs. lower class. The membership in European classes depends on more than just money – in fact, the loss of fortune does not exclude one from his class – and thus allow its members to retain their identity and thus stability in life even if they lose their fortunes. Baldwin remarks that money and what the money can buy is the only marker of status in the American society. If one loses it, one falls virtually to the bottom the prospect of which is bound to terrify any human being. Baldwin suggests that the virulence of racism in the American society is an expression of this existential terror. s. 141-153.

AutorMartin Bartoš (


Katedra -  Studijní předmětÚstav anglofonních literatur a kultur - Race And Ethnicity In American History And Literature

VyučujícíRobbins, David L. PhD