Toni Morrison: Critical Perspectives Past and Present

Overview

Toni Morrison has been described by the New York Times as "the closest thing the country has to a national writer." Her third novel, Song of Solomon, earned her the National Book Critics Circle and the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters awards, and was the first novel written by an African-American writer to be selected for the Book-of-the-Month club since Richard Wright's Native Son. With six published novels, two anthologies, a volume of literary criticism, plays, and other published works ...
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Overview

Toni Morrison has been described by the New York Times as "the closest thing the country has to a national writer." Her third novel, Song of Solomon, earned her the National Book Critics Circle and the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters awards, and was the first novel written by an African-American writer to be selected for the Book-of-the-Month club since Richard Wright's Native Son. With six published novels, two anthologies, a volume of literary criticism, plays, and other published works behind her, she is one of the most celebrated American writers of her time. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., writes in the preface of Toni Morrison: Critical Perspectives Past and Present, coedited with K. A. Appiah, that "Morrison's greatest capacities as a writer are her ability to create a densely lyrical narrative texture that is instantly recognizable as her own, and to make of the particularity of the African-American 'experience' the basis for a representation of humanity tout court." These critical perspectives are reviews from the popular press, essays - by such noted scholars and authors as Houston A. Baker, Jr., author of Workings of the Spirits, and Roberta Rubenstein, author of Boundaries of the Self - and interviews with Morrison that present her own perspective. This unique and revealing collection, which also includes a chronology of her life and career, offers insight and information useful to academic and lay readers alike. The critical essays explain how Morrison's work is influenced by writers such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, William Faulkner, and James Baldwin; by Biblical scripture; and by Black music and speech rituals. They examine why Morrison's writing is "at once difficult and popular," says Gates. When Sara Blackburn reviewed Morrison's first novel, The Bluest Eye, for the New York Times, she wrote that the novelist "reaped the benefits of a growing middle-class women's movement that was just beginning to acknowledge the reality of its blac
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Timely in its appearance, so soon after Morrison claimed this year's Nobel Prize for literature, this publication is one of six volumes launching the ``Amistad Literary'' series, which focuses on criticism of writings by African Americans. The other volumes cover well-known writers Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Gloria Naylor, Alice Walker, and Richard Wright. Representative of the series, this volume on Morrison contains 13 reviews of her novels, taken from the popular press, as well as 15 critical essays written by such noted literary scholars as Houston A. Baker Jr. and Barbara Christian. Most of these essays were previously published; they inevitably conclude with a sense of respect for and awe of the author. Also included are an author chronology, a representative bibliography, and a section of personal interviews. The series provides a handy compilation of background and critical material and would be suitable for literature collections in public libraries.-- Jeris Cassel, Rutgers Univ. Libs., New Brunswick, N.J.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781567430257
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/28/1993
  • Series: Literary Series
  • Pages: 464
  • Product dimensions: 5.99 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.28 (d)

Meet the Author

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., a MacArthur Fellow, holds the W.E.B. Dubois Chair and is director of the African-American Studies Department at Harvard University. He won the American Book Award in 1989 for The Signifying Monkey.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Reviews
The Bluest Eye (1970) 3
Sula (1974) 6
Song of Solomon (1977) 11
Tar Baby (1981) 17
Beloved (1987) 26
Jazz (1992) 36
Essays
The Contemporary Fables of Toni Morrison 59
Beyond Realism 100
Pariahs and Community 126
Text and Countertext in The Bluest Eye 159
"The Evil of Fulfillment": Scapegoating and Narration in The Bluest Eye 175
A Hateful Passion, a Lost Love 210
When Lindbergh Sleeps with Bessie Smith: The Writing of Place in Sula 236
Maternal Narratives: "Cruel Enough to Stop the Blood" 261
Song of Solomon: Continuities of Community 274
Narrative Dilemma: Jadine as Cultural Orphan in Tar Baby 284
Images of Nurturance in Tar Baby 293
Eruptions of Funk: Historicizing Toni Morrison 308
Escaping Slavery but Not Its Images 330
"Circling the Subject": History and Narrative in Beloved 342
A Different Remembering: Memory, History, and Meaning in Beloved 356
Interviews 367
Thomas Leclair 369
Robert B. Stepto 378
Nellie Mckay 396
Christina Davis 412
Essayists 421
Chronology 423
Bibliography 425
Acknowledgments 434
Index 439
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