Go Tell It on the Mountain
a novel by James Baldwin, published in 1952. Baldwin was brought up by a stepfather who was a pastor and spent his formative years in an environment of Christian fanaticism. Baldwin draws heavily upon his own experiences which, along with its rapturous, lyrical prose heavily laden with biblical cadences, gives the book much of its authenticity and conviction. It tells the story of John Grimes, a Harlem boy, who at 14 is coerced by his father's religious zeal to embrace the Christianity his intimidating stepfather represents. Baldwin, who has written elsewhere of the roots of his own oppression within as well as outside the circle of the black family, here attempts to tap the sources of African-American religious practices by relating them to the collective racial tragedies from which they emerged. The novel has also been read as a symbolic portrayal of Baldwin's discovery of his own sexual preferences in which homoerotic desire is disguised as spiritual ecstasy.