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Comment: Title: Giovanni's Room, Author: Baldwin, James, Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd, Binding: Paperback, 1964. 127 pages. Pictorial cards. 1964 edition. Good bright pages with mild tanning to the page fore-edges throughout. Scuffing to the edges and corners of the cards. Folds to the cards. Scuffing and small tears to the spine. Sold as good reading copy only. Price recently reduced!!! Check our feedback, all books quality controlled and dispatched within 24 hours of order.
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Giovanni's Room (Corgi Books. no. GN7069.) Paperback – 1969


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Product details

  • Paperback: 127 pages
  • Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd (1969)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0007J3BDC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,539,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
I stand at the window of this great house in the south of France as night falls, the night which is leading me to the most terrible morning of my life. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Alessandra F. on 9 April 2009
Format: Paperback
I don't even know where to begin from in reviewing this short little book. Well, maybe a good start would certainly be: read it. It's an amazing novel, which contains much more than what is only superficially summarized on its cover, that is a love triangle involving the striking discovery, for the main character, to be gay. That would really mean to be unfair. "Giovanni's Room" is a book about love and about feelings, but also about loneliness, homelessness and the burden of our own choices. And above all it's a book about how really difficult is to live and enjoy freedom, without feeling always wrong and always in need of an escape.
I'd like to quote a passage that stroke me particularly, a passage which complete the title I gave to this review (another quote from the book itself of course). I think it can give you an idea of the beautiful "painful" logic of this book.

He smiled, 'Why, you will go home and then you will find that home is not home any more. Then you will really be in trouble. As long as you stay here, you can always think: One day I will go home.' He played with my thumb and grinned. 'N'est-ce pas?'
'Beautiful logic' I said. 'You mean I have a home to go to as long as I don't go there?'
He laughed. 'Well, isn't it true? You don't have a home until you leave it and then, when you have left it, you never go back.'
'I seem,' I said, 'to have heard this song before.'
'Ah, yes,' said Giovanni, 'and you will certainly hear it again. It is one of those songs that somebody, somewhere, will always be singing.'
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 Oct. 2001
Format: Paperback
In this novel, Baldwin captures the torment faced by a young man in a foreign city with desires he dare not admit to himself. David spends his life running from his sexuality with the result that he denies and destroys his lover Giovanni. Giovanni's chaotic and shambolic room provides a powerful symbolic back drop to the events which unfold within. The novel leaves a bitter taste - you can't run forever and be happy. However this is a message to society and not the individual - David and Giovanni were constrained by an era where homosexuality was synonymous with inferiority and perversion. Within these constraints they could not be happy as a couple.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 5 Oct. 2001
Format: Paperback
This novel is achingly beautiful. It is the sort of book that gets you in the gut. David's rejection of Giovanni is ultimately a rejection of himself. It warns ultimately that if you are not true to yourself a sad fate awaits.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 Jun. 2000
Format: Paperback
James Baldwin's "Giovanni's Room" ranked second in the top 100 Gay Novels of all time. Its beauty continues to draw readers from different social groups because of its remarkable honesty. Based on the American expatriate's life in Paris in the middle of the 20th Century, this novel is about a man who falls in love with a man and forgets all about the taboos and stereotypes that govern our lives, only to wake up later and find himself amidst an unbearably prejudiced world, entrapped by his own cultural background. I recommend this book for its literary style, plot, and characterization which are by far among the best ranking in American literature.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robert Cordner on 5 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback
A short novel about the sometimes painful illusion of choice. The central character, David, an American in Paris, believes he can control his destiny, but his desire to forge this in a particular direction comes from severe prescriptions on his sexuality. Baldwin's depiction of David's struggle to deal with the inherent tension of his situation is moving and unsentimental: David is neither hero nor anti-hero. In a like manner, the two lovers, David and Giovanni, have little love for gay Paris, despite fleeing to its bosom. They cannot conceive that its seediness reflects the attitudes of society outside rather than those within, and they deride the middle-age men in their lives whose attention and money both repel and attract respectively. As the novel develops, Giovanni appears the more progressive, reconciled with his love and identity, albeit largely confined to his eponymous 'room'. But the revelation of his life before Paris, and his reaction to the loss of love, reveal the shallow foundations on which his confidence is built.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Oct. 2000
Format: Paperback
In 'Giovanni's Room', James Baldwin tells a moving story about a man confused by the contrast between what he feels and what he thinks he should feel. In a sense, it tells the story of the conflict all homosexual men must go through, because of the values society has forced on them, and their own inhibitions. This is a powerful, intense piece of writing, that should be read by all!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 29 April 1999
Format: Paperback
This literary masterpiece is by far the strongest, most emotional gay novel of all time. The characters, particularly Giovanni, are written very well. The plot is gripping. Once you start it, you won't put it down. Baldwin shows in Giovanni's Room his capabilities of portraying evil, and love, so strikingly it is like a spell.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Aanel Victoria on 20 Nov. 2010
Format: Paperback
'Giovanni's Room' has the aching ring of truth and personal experience, and is written in sentences so beautiful and well-crafted that the novel seems more like poetry than prose. Baldwin's imagery is deep, subtle, and multi-layered -- one can honestly dig into this novel for days and weeks and come up with reams of symbolism and deeper truth even beyond the beautiful and poignant surface story. This is what makes the book a timeless classic and great masterpiece, rather than simply a well-written story of forbidden love.

One example, out of many: Upon my second reading (like many, I've read this gem a half dozen times), I noticed the colors in which the story is written. It is painted in many and various and deep shades of grey -- like a great charcoal "painting," or a black & white photograph of a rainy day. In terms of great novels, 'Giovanni's Room' for me is actually one that uses some of the darkest greys.

Yet the dark greys are punctuated by a brilliant light, and the light comes from the character Giovanni. From the first moment that the protagonist David meets Giovanni, time stops and the world is set ablaze as from the brightest of suns. It's remarkable sensing the great shafts of light that Giovanni represents, in the midst of the greying darkness around him and around David.

And since -- as the perspicacious reader will notice upon a deep examination of the book -- Giovanni represents, on a symbolic level, David's homosexuality, one can see that his true sexual orientation is the source of light and life in David's existence, and that to deny that is to cut off his light, his source of life and happiness.
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