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I live in Bedford, England. Having retired from teaching; I am now a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Threshold Concepts in the context of A-level Physics. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. I have also recently become a keen playgoer to London Fringe Theatre. I enjoy mostly classics and I read the playscripts and add those to the blog. I am a member of Bedford Writers' Circle. See their website here: http://bedford-writers.co.uk/ Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Monday, 4 November 2013

"Giovanni's room" by James Baldwin

David, an American in Paris, falls for Giovanni, a beautiful barman from Italy. Their affair is doomed because of David's guilt about his sexuality; when his girlfriend returns from a trip to Spain David leaves Giovanni. But Giovanni has fallen in love...

An incredibly powerful novella about love and betrayal. We know from almost the start that Giovanni is soon to be executed for murder. The story is told by a lonely and guilty David. David wallows in guilt: he feels guilty for betraying his first boyfriend; he feels guilty about the fact that he is gay. He hates the "disgusting fairies" in the bars that he relentlessly haunts. He hates the meaningless and loveless couplings in which he indulges, with either gender; he hates his own genitals. He is unable to bring himself, even in this retrospective, to see clearly the sexual acts in which he participates: it is difficult to be sure who does what to whom. But against this background of disgust and self-disgust and guilt and hate there is the shining love that Giovanni has for him and that he would have, if he let himself, for Giovanni.

David and Jonathan. Jonathan died. There arte significant overtones of religion throughout this book.

I was also powerfully reminded of the innocent Donatello in Hawthorne's The Marble Faun: Giovanni could in many ways have been Donatello. He might also have reminded me of Gino in Forster's Where angels fear to tread.

This is almost a text book story. The prose is brilliant. The feelings of dread and shame and disgust and guilt pervade. The message is that only love can lift us above the gutter. November 2013; 150 pages.

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