James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room participates in a cross-racial call and response with Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, illuminating both shared cultural influences and differences of race and sexuality. David’s struggle between the social force of compulsory heterosexuality and the personal force of individual desire plays out on a broader structural level as Baldwin’s gay plot is drawn toward the magnetically forceful heterosexual love triangle in Hemingway’s tale. Hemingway and Baldwin address gender normativity and sexual inadequacy from a particular American perspective that must grapple with an unattainable vision of the normal and with the crippling American myth of self-determination.
Baldwin’s Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises in Giovanni’s Room, with a Twist
Jessica Kent is full-time lecturer for the Boston University College of Arts and Sciences Writing Program. Her recent dissertation, “Novelizing Henry James: Contemporary Fiction’s Obsession with the Master and His Work,” addresses fictional depictions of Henry James in contemporary novels, arguing that James’s innovative depictions of consciousness and identity have led to the popularity of his figure today. Her work has been published in The Henry James Review, and she was the 2015 recipient of the Leon Edel Prize.