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Giovanni's Room

succès de scandale

david novel homosexual baldwin

a novel by James Baldwin, published in 1956. The candour of Baldwin's treatment of homosexuality gave the novel something of a succès de scandale. Told in the first person by a young white American, it is a story of sexual evasion, infatuation, and betrayal. David, whose true inclinations are homosexual, arrives in Paris, where he encounters Giovanni, a young Italian waiter, with whom he falls in love. The feeling is reciprocated and David goes to live with Giovanni in a seedy little room which takes on the quality of a retreat for both the lovers. However, on holiday in Spain, David becomes involved with an American girl and, unable to stand the strain of being sexually unconventional, asks her to marry him, eschewing Giovanni and his milieu entirely. Giovanni, deeply hurt and now out of work, is forced to return to his former lover, a gross man who disgusts him and whom he eventually murders. When David learns of this terrible event, and that Giovanni is to die by the guillotine, he is shocked into some kind of emotional honesty. Despite its taut construction and vividly evoked background, the novel occasionally betrays its author's ambivalence towards his characters, and indeed his central theme, and is therefore, perhaps, not wholly successful; however, it deserves its reputation and its place in literary history for the sensitivity and tenderness with which homosexual love is rendered.

[back] Nikki Giovanni (Nikki Yolande Cornelia Giovanni) Biography - (1943– ), (Nikki Yolande Cornelia Giovanni), The Women and the Men, Black Judgement, My House

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