The Fire Next Time
First edition cover
The Fire Next Time is a book by James Baldwin. It contains two essays: "My Dungeon Shook — Letter to my Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of Emancipation," and "Down At The Cross — Letter from a Region of My Mind." The first essay, written in the form of a letter to Baldwin's 14-year-old nephew, discusses the central role of race in American history. The second essay deals with the relations between race and religion, focusing in particular on Baldwin's experiences with the Christian church as a youth, as well as the Islamic ideas of others in Harlem.
The book was first published by The New Yorker and owing to its great success, it was subsequently published in book form by Dial Press in 1963, and in Britain by Penguin Books in 1964; both essays in the book had previously been published in The Progressive and The New Yorker, respectively. Critics greeted the book enthusiastically; it is considered, by some, one of the most influential books about race relations in the 1960s. It was released in an audiobook format in 2008 and narrated by Jesse L. Martin.
In his work “The Fire Next Time”, he illustrates that he lived in a highly stratified society where the white Americans and African Americans did not get along. In his article, he suggests that despite biblical statements from Christianity, there was no equality among black and white population in the United States. Harlem was also an area filled with poverty and danger, which Baldwin calls ghetto.
Journals Written On The Novel
In the article by Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, she focused on the Civil Rights Movement led by Martin Luther King. This article really builds on Baldwin’s work and gives audiences a better picture of what happened afterwards.In Baldwin’s piece, he noticed that there were racism in the United States, but he was mainly emphasizing the issue in his area of Harlem, New York. However through Hall’s Civil Rights Movement lens, audiences were able to see that the racial issue they confronted in America was not a sectional but rather national problem
In the other article that expands on Baldwin’s new religious view was written by Jon Nilson, a theology professor. Nilson was writing about James Baldwin; however Nilson emphasized on a different religious view than Baldwin himself. In “The Fire Next Time”, Baldwin focused on how Christianity was corrupted and Nilson told how Baldwin challenged the Catholic Church. Nilson stated in his article that when Martin Luther King was assassinated in April 1968, it almost seemed like The Fire Next Time (1963) had come true. The author was trying to make a statement demonstrating that he actually witnessed what Baldwin was trying to argue in his work. In Nilson’s article, it gives audience a better understanding of James Baldwin as an African American living under white supremacy in the United States.
- James Baldwin: A Soul on Fire
- The New Jim Crow
- Timeline of the African-American Civil Rights Movement
- E. Washington, Robert. The Ideologies of African American Literature: From the Harlem Renaissance.
- Michael Bernick, "Race, Intermarriage and 'The Fire Next Time' in California", Fox & Hounds, 21 August 2012.
- F.W. Dupee, "James Baldwin and the 'Man'", New York Review of Books, 1 June 1963
- "The Fire Next Time". Polyaplang. Retrieved September 23, 2014.
- Hall, Jacquelyn Dowd. "The Long Civil Rights Movement and the Political Uses of the Past". Journal of American History 91 (4): 1234.
- Nilson, Jon (2013). "James Baldwin’s Challenge to Catholic Theologians and the Church". Theological Studies 74 (4): 886.
- Baldwin, James. "A Letter to My Nephew". The Progressive (December 1962).
- Baldwin, James. "Letter from a Region in My Mind". The New Yorker (November 17, 1962): 59–144.