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The Amen Corner

3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  337 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
Only a boy preacher who had grown up to become one of America's most eminent writers could have produced a play like The Amen Corner. For to his first work for the theater James Baldwin brought all the fervor and majestic rhetoric of the storefront churches of his childhood along with an unwavering awareness of the price those churches exacted from their worshipers.

For yea
Paperback, 112 pages
Published February 17th 1998 by Vintage (first published January 1st 1961)
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Community Reviews

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Jul 21, 2013 Darryl rated it really liked it
A theatre and book review; I saw the performance at the National Theatre in London on 7/20/13.

James Baldwin began to write this play in the summer of 1952, after he returned to New York after spending four years in Paris. While he was there he completed his first novel, Go Tell It On the Mountain, and after he borrowed money from Marlon Brando he returned home in an attempt to sell the novel. The Amen Corner, like Go Tell It On the Mountain, is set in a black church in Harlem and is semi-autobio
Nick Jones
I have never been much of a theatre goer, but I have always read plays...which is perhaps odd. I hadn’t planned to include plays in these notes, but I read this because I had recently read James Baldwin’s Go Tell It on the Mountain, so it seems sensible to comment on it. Although not staged or published until the mid-1960s, Baldwin wrote The Amen Corner after completing Go Tell It on the Mountain in the 1950s: both are studies of African-American families that are immersed in the Church, Baldwin ...more
Ok, this was an interesting read. By interesting, I mean: I'm not quite sure how I feel about it.

Baldwin does and says so many things here, in 113 pages.
There is the euphoria of praise and worship; the delusion that one sometimes encounters in religion; the pain hidden in an overenthusiastic love of God; the righteousness - self-righteousness, false righteousness, all of it; then, there is the sadness of it all.

Baldwin deals with the conflict that arises when one stops believing and yet has a se
Howard Williams
Nov 29, 2015 Howard Williams rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First, let me say that I have a tremendous bias, as James Baldwin is my favorite author and I have not come across a work of his I haven't liked. As one who has spent a great deal of time in the church before migrating into the "world" I can say with a fair amount of accuracy that his depiction of the church is perfect (even in the present day). Baldwin does well to highlight the yearning for church not as a place to refine one's love but rather as a place of refuge even though one's problems go ...more
Stephen Lamb
Mar 01, 2014 Stephen Lamb rated it it was amazing
I started working my way through Baldwin's essays a couple years ago, but this is his first fiction piece I've read. I loved it, and hope to get around to "Go Tell It on the Mountain" soon.

A favorite bit of dialogue, spoken by Luke, David's father:

The most terrible time in a man's life, David, is when he's done lost everything that held him together - it's just gone and he can't find it. The whole world just get to be a great big empty basin. And it just as hollow as a basin when you strike it w
Feb 12, 2015 Matthew rated it really liked it
I've read James Baldwin before and when searching through plays at my local library I came across James Baldwin's play, The Amen Corner.

I was shocked to believe that he actually wrote not only one but two plays in his lifetime. He is a remarkable writer and the tone of his writing is by far one of the best in English literature.

For his first attempt in playwriting, the story was shocking with how this very influential pastor, Sister Margaret Alexander left her past and created a new one with the
Jan 19, 2015 Salvatore rated it liked it
Echoes many of the passages of Go Tell It on the Mountain, which makes sense as preachers play a significant role in both. But the tragic reality of what it means to be human and what it means to be with God is teased out, slowly but surely. Nothing too mindblowing, but the sense of time and place - which appears to weld conversations and times fluidly - is standout.
Dec 20, 2011 Eric rated it liked it
I am a James Baldwin reader. I regard him quite highly as one of my favorite authors. Yet,as a theatre artist, I think that The Amen Corner doesn't translate as well to the stage. I think that it at times feels very long. James Baldwin's rich use of language can come across somewhat heavy-handed in the play form. What I do like about the play is that James Baldwin is sharing with us his personal experiences. He deals with a range of topics that are still valid today - the role of women, religion ...more
Joe T.
Oct 17, 2014 Joe T. rated it really liked it
A great analysis of the church and a reminder that only people who are with out stones can throw bricks!
Deborah Schuff
May 19, 2016 Deborah Schuff rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays
James Baldwin knows these people and makes them come alive. A powerful play.
Vanessa (V.C.)
I'm not entirely sure if, for all of Baldwin's talent in writing novels and essays, his writing translates well in the theater/play format. I guess the problem is that it feels rather long and dragged out. I think this story would have worked better as a short story; as a play, I just don't think it's particularly effective or moving as the plot is trying to put out there. Nonetheless, a great concept and effort to try and take the same themes as Go Tell It On the Mountain and put it on the stag ...more
Aug 02, 2007 Brett rated it really liked it
This is the second play of Baldwin's that I've read. I think it's a little stronger than his first, Blues for Mister Charlie, though not as incendiary, perhaps. Deals in the same milieu as Go Tell it on the Mountain.
May 11, 2016 Maribel rated it it was amazing
How did I just find James Baldwin last year? What kind of school did I attend in which his books weren't required? Oh well, I'm just glad I know him now.
J. Lopez
Aug 28, 2012 J. Lopez rated it really liked it
A compelling play on faith and the hypocrisy of the church--ACT II was my favorite.

"Music is a moment. But life's a long time."
May 24, 2011 Emily rated it liked it
"The only thing my mother should have told me is that being a woman ain't nothing but one long fight with men."
Desiree Samone
Oct 19, 2011 Desiree Samone rated it liked it
It was an good concept for a play but on certain parts it seemed to drag a little...

Thank you, I was long overdue for some serious heartbreak.
A pretty slim read. Great dialogue and interesting characters.
RK Byers
Sep 07, 2009 RK Byers rated it liked it
not as good, perhaps, as "Blues for Mr. Charlie"
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

James Arthur Baldwin was an American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic.

James Baldwin offered a vital literary voice during the era of civil rights activism in the 1950s and '60s. The eldest of nine children, his stepfather was a minister. At age 14, Bal
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