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Set in the 1950s Paris of American expatriates, liaisons, and violence, a young man finds himself caught between desire and conventional morality. With a sharp, probing imagination, James Baldwin's now-classic narrative delves into the mystery of loving and creates a moving, highly controversial story of death and passion that reveals the unspoken complexities of the human heart.
again. I was beginning, perhaps, to find his phantom a little unnerving but the sound of his laughter in that airless tunnel was the most incredible sound. “It’s clear that you are a true philosopher.” He pointed a finger at my heart. “And when you have waited—has it made you sure?” For this I could simply summon no answer. From the dark, crowded center of the bar someone called “Garçon!” and he moved away from me, smiling. “You can wait now. And tell me how sure you have become when I return.”
little bent, a little breathless. “Bonsoir, monsieur. Vous n’êtes pas malade?” “No,” I say, “I have not been sick. Come in.” She comes in, closing the door behind her, and allowing the shawl to fall from her head. I still have my drink in my hand and she notices this, in silence. “Eh bien,” she says. “Tant mieux. But we have not seen you for several days. You have been staying in the house?” And her eyes search my face. I am embarrassed and resentful; yet it is impossible to rebuff
I had not expected to say it. He had not expected to hear it. He looked at me and reached out and touched me on the cheek. “Yes,” he said. Then: “I am not trying to be méchant when I talk about women. I respect women—very much—for their inside life, which is not like the life of a man.” “Women don’t seem to like that idea,” I said. “Oh, well,” said Giovanni, “these absurd women running around today, full of ideas and nonsense, and thinking themselves equal to men—quelle rigolade!—they need to
have it for Christ sake, get it over with; then it was ending and I hated her and me, then it was over, and the dark, tiny room rushed back. And I wanted only to get out of there. She lay still for a long time. I felt the night outside and it was calling me. I leaned up at last and found a cigarette. “Perhaps,” she said, “we should finish our drinks.” She sat up and switched on the lamp which stood beside her bed. I had been dreading this moment. But she saw nothing in my eyes—she stared at me
you anymore, I found a girl and I want to marry her and it wasn’t that I was keeping secrets from you, I just wasn’t sure she wanted to marry me. But she’s finally agreed to risk it, poor soft-headed thing that she is, and we’re planning to tie the knot while we’re still over here and make our way home by easy stages. She’s not French, in case you’re worried (I know you don’t dislike the French, it’s just that you don’t think they have our virtues—I might add, they don’t.) Anyway, Hella—her name