You read something which you thought only happened to you, and you discover that it happened 100 years ago to Dostoyevsky. This is a very great liberation for the suffering, struggling person, who always thinks that he is alone. This is why art is important. Art would not be important if life were not important, and life is important.

James Baldwin (1924-1987) American novelist, playwright, activist
“An interview with James Baldwin” by Studs Terkel (1961), in Conversations With James Baldwin (1989)
    (Source)

Baldwin revisited this theme multiple times.

You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was Dostoevsky and Dickens who taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive. Only if we face these open wounds in ourselves can we understand them in other people. An artist is a sort of emotional or spiritual historian.
[Interview with Jane Howard, Life Magazine (24 May 1963)]

You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.
["James Baldwin Recalls His Childhood," quoting from a television program, New York Times (31 May 1964)]


 
Added on 31-Dec-10 | Last updated 10-Feb-22
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