Musings of a Future Librarian: James Baldwin- Giovanni’s Room

Based in 1950’s Paris, Giovanni’s Room is a novel that expresses the realities of requited love, destroyed by social ideologies concerned with man and his sexuality. Told from the viewpoint of the protagonist simply known as David, Giovanni’s Room is centered around the relationship between our narrator, and a beautiful Italian named Giovanni, who he meets at a bar. When David first meets Giovanni, he is battling the ideals of American manhood, and only speaks to him under the guise that he is doing so for the sake of his companion, Jacques. However, as the story progresses, the men begin to enjoy one another and they eventually develop a relationship in the safety of Giovanni’s room. While in Paris with Giovanni, David’s partner, Hella, is off in Spain discovering whether or not she would like to be with David, who does not love her but rather the idea of her. Hella eventually returns to Paris and David’s worlds collide, destroying the peace and joy in both.

One of the most intriguing aspects of this novel is its ability to seek you out in the day. Whether it be over toast and coffee, or in the car ride home while sitting in traffic, the love and agony Baldwin writes into the relationship between these two men, stirs the reader — jolting them with the demand to understand the crushing realities that accompany those living at the edges of an underdeveloped culture. Baldwin showed America the beauty in being gay, before it was ready to accept such a thing. Giovanni’s Room in essence gives one a taste of the biting consequences and insecurities that come with love. Go ahead and pick this classic up, you won’t be disappointed. 

— Andrea Rodriguez, Blogger.


Andrea Rodriguez’s Bio

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Andrea Rodriguez is a senior at Lewis University. Prior to attending Lewis, she completed her associates at the College of DuPage. Rodriguez is studying English Literature in order to pursue a career as an academic librarian. As for her interests, Andrea loves spending time with her family, being in nature, taking care of her plants, writing, cooking, and traveling when she can. Andrea also enjoys exploring unique writing styles. Some of her favorite pieces include The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson and “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid.  In addition to being a fiction/poetry editor for Jet Fuel Review, Rodriguez is the editor-in-chief of Lewis Voices, and the administrative director for Sigma Tau Delta, of which she is also a member.