Samuel offered an elegant and accessible way into Baldwin’s complex life and works by focusing tightly, but never narrowly or reductively, on the author’s search for a language adequate to his experience in the world during his years in Paris. Acknowledging Baldwin’s Parisian friendships and sometimes vexed personal relationships, as well as his participation in the politics of civil rights, Samuel wisely privileges Baldwin’s language, his words. (His choice of passages is brilliant.) And since Samuel is a sensitive and passionate reader, the emphasis on language opens up profound questions of being and becoming—not only for Baldwin, but also for us. Although he clearly had much more to say, Samuel generously left 30 minutes for a discussion that turned out to be intimate, deep, revelatory, and provocative.
I enjoyed the chance to trace some of the French and Swiss travels of James Baldwin, and think about his critical development. Samuel was a very thoughtful and engaging teacher, and left me with a desire to continue learning about this important writer who is relevant and revealing today.
“The moment we cease to hold each other.
The moment we break faith with one another.
The sea engulfs us and the light goes out”
I have just begun to explore James Baldwin and his work. I found this a wonderful taste of the man and some of the issues he wrestled with throughout his life and work. It certainly made me eager to read Baldwin's writings. Samuél seemed quite versed in philosophy and I found his insights and analysis engaging and thought provoking.
SL-B brings insight and passion to this course that combines biography, history, and analysis enabling Baldwin to come alive. SL-B is a creative force—not to be misse.
This was a great class! Samuél shared a broad range of excellent information, observations, pictures and quotations in a relatively short period of time. Compelling and enlightening.