Taking a close look at all the key male figures in Toni Morrison’s eight novels, this book explores Morrison’s admitted, but critically neglected, interest in the relationships between African American men and women and the “axes” on which these relationships turn. Most Morrison scholarship deals with her female characters. Can’t I Love What I Criticize? offers a response to this imbalance and to Morrison’s call for more work on men, who remain, in her words, “outside of that little community value thing.”
The book also considers the barriers between black men and women thrown up by their participation in a larger, historically racist culture of competition, ownership, sexual repression, and fixed ideals about physical beauty and romantic love. Black women, Morrison says, bear their crosses “extremely well,” and black men, although they have been routinely emasculated by “white men, period,” have managed to maintain a feisty “magic” that everybody wants but nobody else has.
Understanding Morrison’s treatment of her male characters, says Susan Mayberry, becomes crucial to grasping her success in “countering the damage done by a spectrum of sometimes misguided isms”including white American feminism. Morrison’s version of masculinity suggests that black men have “successfully retained their special vitality in spite of white male resistance” and that “their connections to black women have saved their lives.” To single out her men is not to negate the preeminence of her women; rather, it is to recognize the interconnectedness and balance between them.
|Publisher:||University of Georgia Press|
|Edition description:||New Edition|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.13(d)|
About the Author
Susan Neal Mayberry is a professor of English at Alfred University.
Table of ContentsAcknowledgments ix
Something Other Than a Family Quarrel: Morrison's Review of the Masculine 1
Black Boys, White Gaze: A Respectful Publication of The Bluest Eye 15
An Elegy on Black Masculinity: The Beautiful Boys in Sula 51
Flying without Ever Leaving the Ground: Feminine Masculinity in Song of Solomon 71
The Nigger in the Woodpile: Sons and Lovers in Tar Baby 116
Circles of Sorrow, Sites of Memory, Forms of Flooding: Colored Men's Time in Beloved 153
Classically Re-training Blues Boys: Morrison's Jazz Men 193
Putting down Parking Lots out There: Morrison's Unpaved Male Paradise 223
Laying down the Law of the Father: Men in Love 261
Selected Bibliography 319