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What Else But Love?: The Ordeal of Race in Faulkner and Morrison

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Weinstein investigates the stories blacks and whites, men and women, tell about each other through the work of two quintessential American novelists: William Faulkner and and Toni Morrison. Exploring deep-rooted understandings of race and gender and describing how differently their "Americanness" resonates in both writers' works, What Else But Love? considers the legacy of slavery in a variety of ways, from the meaning of mammies and mothers to the question of black manhood.

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Overview

Weinstein investigates the stories blacks and whites, men and women, tell about each other through the work of two quintessential American novelists: William Faulkner and and Toni Morrison. Exploring deep-rooted understandings of race and gender and describing how differently their "Americanness" resonates in both writers' works, What Else But Love? considers the legacy of slavery in a variety of ways, from the meaning of mammies and mothers to the question of black manhood.

-Weinstein not only excavates the deep layers of race, gender, and identity formation in novels by two of our most significant American fiction writers; he is also limning, with great care, some of the most divisive and explosive cultural issues in this country's history. At bottom his argument is that our greatest writers teach us about ourselves: who we were, who we are, who we might become. -Minrose C. Gwin -University of New Mexico -Through the many brilliant moments of his cross-reading, Weinstein persuades us how unflinchingly the century's two greatest American novelists recall the history of racial slavery-the legacy that founds as it confounds our national experience, and how resourcefully they seek to imagine lives beyond the reach of its fatality. -John Matthews -author of The Play of Faulkner's Language -Phil Weinstein explores the novels of Toni Morrison and William Faulkner as they engage problems having to do with race, gender, and class. He does so, moreover, in language that is accessible and in ways that not only enrich our sense of the achievement of both writers but also subtly remind us that the problems they engage are important not because they are currently fashionable among literary critics but rather because they play vital roles in shaping the lives of writers and readers as well as fictional characters. -David Minter -Rice University -Weinstein focuses on many aspects of race and gender - from black manhood to white maternity - to explore 'the degree of ideological disturbance that a text can summon forth, significantly interrelate, and formally convey.' He effectively pairs the modernist fictions of Faulkner and Morrison to suggest 'the range of human cost and possibilities occasioned by the two races' mutual caughtness, their inextricable interpenetration.' Light in August and Beloved, for example, are the authors' 'most incisive rendering of racial disturbance.' Strongly recommended. -Choice

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Editorial Reviews

John Matthews
Through the many brilliant moments of his cross-reading, Weinstein persuades us how unflinchingly the century's two greatest American novelists recall the history of racial slavery-the legacy that founds as it confounds our national experience, and how resourcefully they seek to imagine lives beyond the reach of its fatality.
Toni Morrison
I read What Else But Love? with enormous interest and a great deal of satisfaction.
David Minter
Phil Weinstein explores the novels of Toni Morrison and William Faulkner as they engage problems having to do with race, gender, and class. He does so, moreover, in language that is accessible and in ways that not only enrich our sense of the achievement of both writers but also subtly remind us that the problems they engage are important not because they are currently fashionable among literary critics but rather because they play vital roles in shaping the lives of writers and readers as well as fictional characters.
Choice
Weinstein focuses on many aspects of race and gender -from black manhood to white maternity -to explore 'the degree of ideological disturbance that a text can summon forth, significantly interrelate, and formally convey.´ He effectively pairs the modernist fictions of Faulkner and Morrison to suggest 'the range of human cost and possibilities occasioned by the two races´ mutual caughtness, their inextricable interpenetration.´ Light in August and Beloved, for example, are the authors´ 'most incisive rendering of racial disturbance.´ Strongly recommended.
Minrose C. Gwin
Weinstein not only excavates the deep layers of race, gender, and identity formation in novels by two of our most significant American fiction writers; he is also limning, with great care, some of the most divisive and explosive cultural issues in this country's history. At bottom his argument is that our greatest writers teach us about ourselves: who we were, who we are, who we might become.
Mississippi Quarterly
An unfailingly intelligent and generous study of Faulkner and Morrison.
Tracy McCabe
Weinstein's book is beautifully and accessibly written. The structure of Weinstein's book facilitates insightful close readings, intriguing comparative analysis, and perceptive comments about the development of each of these writers.
Booknews
The title refers to "Song of Solomon", in which Guitar answers "What else but love?" when he identifies the emotion that fuels the most deliberate action he is capable of: racial revenge. The author identifies his study as a white male's reflection on Morrison, broadened by his study of Faulkner, and vice versa. The study is devoted to the individual power of each author and to disengaging the major role that race and gender play in shaping their practice: race and gender as differential social positions that entail different experiences and from which significantly divergent insights and procedures become available. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
MELUS
Weinstein's book is beautifully and accessibly written. The structure of Weinstein's book facilitates insightful close readings, intriguing comparative analysis, and perceptive comments about the development of each of these writers.

— Tracy McCabe, Lake Forest College

Mississippi Quarterly

An unfailingly intelligent and generous study of Faulkner and Morrison.

Choice

Weinstein focuses on many aspects of race and gender -- from black manhood to white maternity -- to explore 'the degree of ideological disturbance that a text can summon forth, significantly interrelate, and formally convey.'He effectively pairs the modernist fictions of Faulkner and Morrison to suggest 'the range of human cost and possibilities occasioned by the two races'mutual caughtness, their inextricable interpenetration.' Light in August and Beloved, for example, are the authors''most incisive rendering of racial disturbance.'Strongly recommended.

Choice

Weinstein focuses on many aspects of race and gender -- from black manhood to white maternity -- to explore 'the degree of ideological disturbance that a text can summon forth, significantly interrelate, and formally convey.'He effectively pairs the modernist fictions of Faulkner and Morrison to suggest 'the range of human cost and possibilities occasioned by the two races'mutual caughtness, their inextricable interpenetration.' Light in August and Beloved, for example, are the authors''most incisive rendering of racial disturbance.'Strongly recommended.

MELUS - Tracy McCabe

Weinstein's book is beautifully and accessibly written. The structure of Weinstein's book facilitates insightful close readings, intriguing comparative analysis, and perceptive comments about the development of each of these writers.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231102766
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 11/5/1996
  • Pages: 237
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Meet the Author

Philip M. Weinstein is Alexander Griswold Cummins Professor of English at Swarthmore College.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Note on Texts and Abbreviations
Introduction
Pt. 1 Beginnings 1
1 Personal Beginnings: Mammies and Mothers 3
2 Historical Beginnings: Slavery 36
Pt. 2 Legacies 83
3 "Mister": The Drama of Black Manhood in Faulkner and Morrison 87
4 David and Solomon: Fathering Black and White 104
Pt. 3 Encounters 133
5 "The Condition Our Condition Is In": Bedrock in Go Down, Moses and Song of Solomon 135
6 Miscegenation and Might-Have-Been: Absalom, Absalom! and Jazz 145
7 The Circulation of Social Energy: Race, Gender, and Value in Light in August and Beloved 156
Conclusion 185
Notes 195
Works Cited 221
Index 231
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