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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: July 2019

Chapter 8 - Decline of Reputation in the 1980s

from Part 1 - Life and Afterlife


Less than two decades after he appeared on the cover of Time magazine in 1963, James Baldwin, the one-time bestselling author, darling of critics, and civil rights icon, was considered passé. The author was keenly aware of his diminished standing. “I’m very vulnerable to all of that,” he acknowledged in a 1985 interview with the New York Times, “but after all, that’s not what it’s all about.” Baldwin still believed he was producing good work – and, as significantly, that he had great work ahead of him. But he also knew the difficulty of sustaining public interest, particularly as a middle-aged bisexual black writer in the post–civil rights era.