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am 20. Oktober 2014
"I wanted to be inside again, with the lights and safety, with my manhood unquestioned, watching my woman put my children to bed."

Was tut man, wenn man anders ist als die anderen? Man tut so als ob man es nicht wäre...

Paris in der 1960er Jahren. David, ein junger Amerikaner nimmt uns mit in seine Welt. Eine Welt voller Zwiespalt, Zweifel und Selbstverleugnung. David liebt Männer und hat dennoch eine Freundin - Hella, die er liebt - aber eben nicht so liebt, wie er Giovanni liebt. Um wieder näher aneinander zu rücken, beschließt Hella eine Auszeit und geht nach Spanien. David bleibt in Paris zurück und lernt über seinen Gönner Guillaume, den jungen Kellner Giovanni kennen. Beide trifft es wie ein Schlag und sie können nicht von einander lassen. Als Hella zurückkehrt, muss David sich entscheiden und droht daran zu zerbrechen. Dabei merkt er nicht, dass er alle die er liebt, mit in seinen Abgrund reißt.

"He held my face between his hands and I supposed such tenderness has scarcely ever produced such terror as I then felt."

Baldwin hat ein Meisterwerk verfasst. Nicht nur ist das Buch thematisch hochbrisant für seine Entstehungszeit, die 1950er Jahre, auch als schwarzer Autor das Thema Homosexualität zu wählen und so behutsam abzuhandeln, ist eine wahre Kunst. Baldwin nimmt den Leser mit auf eine Achterbahnfahrt der Gefühle, wobei es nicht mal eine Rolle spielt, dass ein Mann einen Mann liebt. Vielmehr leidet der Leser mit David und hofft, dass er für sich den richtigen Weg finden mag. Die Charaktere sind ausgeklügelt und brilliant konstruiert. Dabei tragen sie den Plot bis an sein dramatisches Ende. David, als Hauptprotagonist, ist hervorragend dargestellt und er steht für hunderttausende junger Männer, die auf der Suche nach sich selbst sind.

Damit hat Baldwin ein grandioses Spiegelbild jener Gesellschaft der 1950er Jahre geschaffen, welches leicht auf eine andere Zeit und andere Orte übertragen werden kann. Auch sprachlich spielt Baldwin unter den Besten der Besten mit. Ich habe selten so gezielt, auf den Punkt gebrachte Sätze gelesen, die mich sofort in ihren Bann gezogen haben. Damit hat er mich sprachlich, emotional und inhaltlich voll und ganz abgeholt.

Fazit: Ein wunderbares Spiegelbild eines zerrissenen Selbst, das einmal mehr zeigt, dass sich niemand Gefühle aussuchen kann und das man vor seinen Geistern nicht flüchten kann... Absolut empfehlenswert!
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am 2. Juli 2017
There's a thing to be said about European art, be it films, books or music. Whatever one might argue, we do "melancholic, desperate and gloomy" better than anyone else. This book is no exception. It is so French that half the dialogue was left in French so as not to ruin the feeling. Knowledge of French would certainly help for reading it.
It is a story of the clash of temperaments. An American meets an Italian. Sparks fly (sparks always fly when Italians are involved). Passion ensues. Only to end in the realization that this is not what both parties bargained for.
I spent the whole book trying to figure out the American guy. He seems a bit random, a bit raw, like he doesn't know where he belongs yet. That's his curse.
Fans of John Irving will like this book because it has the general feeling of 'In one person', so I am not surprised that this is where I first read about it. But it also is very melancholic, very grey and very restrained.
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am 12. Juni 2000
Foremost, Giovanni's Room is beautifully written. Baldwin writes incredibly well.
It would be a mistake to see this book as singularly about homosexuality (and to either read it, or not, because of that alone). Baldwin explores universal problems using a specific character and context.
What's most impressive is the way he describes, and then captures the consequences, of the moral dilemma. Though the context is homosexuality, I think similar conflict happens all too often, especially in relationships. You think you should be one thing or feel one way, and everything in your social, religious, intellectual voice tells you're right - except how you deep down feel. Baldwin has this one line about how hard it is to say "yes" to life. In that passage, I think he refers to how hard it is to reject your conventional self and embrace your deep down feelings. And this conflict could be about anything.
Then, too, Baldwin shows how, the stronger you love someone who provokes such internal conflict, the stronger your own self-hatred and hatred for that person. How terrible to most want to hurt the person you most love.
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am 3. August 1999
The gay community often praises this book for its treatment of a man coming to terms with himself and his sexuality. Yet in writing this work, Baldwin deliberately ignored one aspect of himself---blackness. The protagonist here is free to espouse his sexuality, but this freedom stems in part from the fact that he is white and does not suffer the burdens that being black *and* gay would create for him. Baldwin's protagonist can roam around Europe with his educated and affluent friends, and he doesn't suffer the condemnation for betraying his race that many black gays face from the black community. He doesn't face rejection from families versed in intolerant Southern Baptist traditions. He doesn't face the racism within the overwhelmingly white gay community that often leaves black gays out as undesireables. In writing a book that gets praised by the (white) gay world, Baldwin chose to ignore the very different pains that confront black gays. In a work thatis purportedly about freedom to be oneself, Baldwin's wilfull ommission of the race issue is dishonest.
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am 13. Juli 2015
This is definitely one of my favorite books.
Giovanni's Room is a gripping story of homosexual love and death. I expected a political orientation of the book to be overpowering, but to my surprise it is the genuine and realistic relationship between the two men that strikes the reader. David gradually discovers his latent homoerotic side, so the exploration of sexuality and the character's reflection on it bring a lot of substance into the story. It's a very intense story with tragic overtones.
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am 10. Januar 2000
In this book, a white American, David, goes to Paris, meets the Italian Giovanni in a gay bar, leaves his girlfriend Hella....Will today's readers feel that David's self-hatred of his basically-gay identity (his "internalized homophobia") is dated now--much like some say the 1968 play THE BOYS IN THE BAND is, for example? We're past such agonizing? But aha, major personal growth against the norms is always turbulent. Anyhow, I have loved this novel for 3 reasons: its Paris, its prose, and its psychology. PARIS: Baldwin vividly sketches in words that great city. Onion soup at 4 A.M. in dubious cafes....the indomitable concierge....the sweeping quarters....and the rest. PROSE: Baldwin's long sentences, preaching-inspired, roll and swell and flow on and redouble. And, PSYCHOLOGY: sure, the bleakness of David is "pre-gay-lib," let alone pre-gay marriage plus parenting! But homophobia is not yet slain, is it. Plus, more universal is David's struggling with the major human issue of (as Baldwin said in ANOTHER COUNTRY) "the life you have, you want, you think you want, you should want, and you think you should want." Today, more of us can sooner arrive at where David only started, in his first surrender to Giovanni and male love: "With everything in me shouting No, yet the sum of me sighed Yes." Baldwin's unique portrayal of human emotions as risky, vulnerable, dubious--a great gift of his--energizes this novel for me; always has.
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am 15. Mai 2000
The first word that comes to mind when I think about Giovanni's Room is "poetic." Each word is thoughtfully placed in each sentence, creating a narrative that reflects not only the profound intellectualism of Baldwin, but also his sensitivity and depth as a human being. GIOVANNI's ROOM has established itself as an important queer novel. First published over 40 years ago, it captures the life of an expatriate, David, in Paris, and reveals his transformation. His transformation is multilayered, a complex and dynaic affair, yet the most obvious, and arguably, important one, is his sexual metamorphosis--brought about by Giovanni. The relevance of this novel is that most of us can empathize with David's struggle. How could we not? Balwin's words are rich and compelling. It lifted me from my reality into David's, and by the end of the novel (the last two sentences, I've read 1000 times), I felt like I knew exactly what David had gone through, because I was there with him, and because I'd been there in my own life as well.
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am 22. März 2008
If one thinks of the expatriates,Americans in preferably, Paris, before the midst of the last century, one usually thinks of the likes of Hemingway,inscrutably sipping away at his coffee, in some sidewalk Parisian café.
One would not think of a gay,black writer, who's first book told of his religious upbringing in Harlem at the time.
And that is quite the pity, for where for example,Somerset Maugham, failed in the open depiction of his character's homosexuality, Baldwin thematizes it.
And yet it is not just a book about gay life in Paris at the time.
Or a sappy love story between men.
It is a reflection on love,true love, life, destiny,the choices in life one makes..and a very intense study of character.
And yet it is less political or hypothetical than truly heart wrenching.
And in that point Baldwin gains over Maugham and mostly even Hemingway, emotion...it is great writing, so good, it hurts.
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am 4. September 1999
I had heard a lot of hype about this novel, but it just didn't live up to it. I have to say that I agree with the reviewer who said that this book gets praise because the characters are white. While Baldwin does deal with some fundamental relationship issues, his knowledge of audience -to be blunt-- believing that only white gays read books in the 50's- leaves the book hollow at it's core. I was always told that great literature comes from finding the universal in the specific, and Baldwin can't find the specific here because he is too afraid to present inner thoughts that could have lifted this novel up.
To the other reviewer, color does have a lot to do with Baldwin's literature, and it does influence his writing. I am an amatuer Baldwin scholar, and I know his workd well, race should have been in this book. The fact that it is absent here, to me, says that his heart was not fully in this novel, only his head. And that's not great literature.
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am 14. Mai 2000
Giovanni's Room was an excellent book about how society affects peoples lives. It tells the horrific tale of a man unsure of his sexual orientation and what he thinks is normal and not. Daivd isn't sure whether he should conform to society's standards or follow his heart. It a great story of the gradually deterioration of the human soul. Read It!
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