Original Research

Troubled reading: ‘Sonny’s blues’ and empathy

Eva Kowalska
Literator | Vol 36, No 1 | a1148 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v36i1.1148 | © 2015 Eva Kowalska | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 August 2014 | Published: 31 July 2015

About the author(s)

Eva Kowalska, Department of English, University of Johannesburg, South Africa


This article uses a discussion of Baldwin’s short story ‘Sonny’s blues’ as a means of exploring reading and approaches to drug literature. It considers the possibility of understanding Baldwin’s fictional text as a statement on reading social as well as subjective ‘problems’ as universal across contexts. Using conclusions gleaned from a detailed reading of the primary text, as well as the contributions of others to the field, it argues for the importance of reading, as audience and as scholars, with the capacity to allow for the transformation of problematic subjective experience such as drug addiction into artistic expression with value beyond its initial context.


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