Published online by Cambridge University Press: 12 July 2019
Between his birth in Harlem and his death in St.-Paul-de-Vence, Baldwin lived for varying amounts of time all over the world, yet many readers associate him with his first site of expatriation even though it was not his longest stay or his favorite place. In a 1970 interview Baldwin said, “I didn’t come to Paris in , I simply left America. I would have gone to Tokyo, I would have gone to Israel, I would have gone anywhere. I was getting out of America.” Baldwin is speaking rhetorically here, claiming he wasn’t drawn to Paris so much as he was repelled by the United States, but it should be acknowledged that Paris was not a random choice for an American writer seeking an expatriate experience in the mid-twentieth century. When Baldwin went there just after World War II, Paris was America’s most important literary city.