The Aesthetics of Toni Morrison
Speaking the Unspeakable
Publication Year: 2000
Published by: University Press of Mississippi
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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This book has been encouraged and advised by a number of people to whom I am quite grateful. Arnold Rampersad, Michael Kowalewski, Eric Sundquist, and Lee Mitchell each gave helpful guidance at various stages of this project. The Works-in-Progress group at Washington and Lee University offered...
Introduction: Aesthetics and the African American Novel
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In "The World and the Jug," Ralph Ellison's powerful meditation upon the roles of aesthetics and politics in the African-American novel, Ellison makes a key distinction: "The novel," he urges, "is always a public gesture, though not necessarily a political one." Few American authors have been more...
"Aesthetic" and "Rapport" in Toni Morrison's Sula
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Toni Morrison's novels have often been read as presenting something beloved, lost, and familiar to an African-American reader. Renita Weems, for instance, writes: "Toni Morrison is one of the few authors I enjoy rereading. Having lived in the North for the last six years (against my better senses), when...
Language That Bears Witness: The Black English Oral Tradition in the Works of Toni Morrison
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Toni Morrison has said, "I tend not to explain things very much, but I long for a critic who will know what I mean when I say 'Church' or 'community,' or when I say 'ancestor' or 'chorus' Because my books come out of those things and represent how they function in the [B]lack cosmology" (McKay, "Interview" 151). As...
Toward the Limits of Mystery: The Grotesque in Toni Morrison's Beloved
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Since its publication in 1987, Toni Morrison's Beloved has challenged and engaged readers with its moving portrayal of Sethe, an ex-slave woman, in her struggle to construct a new identity out of the horrors of her past life. Multiple plot lines, shifting points of view, and complicated chronology all...
From the Sublime to the Beautiful: The Aesthetic Progression of Toni Morrison
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The great truism of Morrison scholarship is that her primary theme is "community." Certainly each novel rigorously engages such issues as what constitutes a community, what function a community serves, what threatens a community, what helps it survive. As Morrison herself has said, "If anything I do...
Toni Morrison's Beauty Formula
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"The concept of physical beauty as a virtue," Toni Morrison wrote in 1974, "is one of the dumbest, most pernicious and destructive ideas of the Western world, and we should have nothing to do with it" ("Behind the Making" 89). Morrison was responding to the slogan "Black is Beautiful" which she took...
Contentions in the House of Chloe: Morrison's Tar Baby
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Is "Once upon a time" the oldest narrative entry into the world? So conjectures Toni Morrison in support of her belief, vigorously defended in her Nobel Laureate Address, that narrative is "one of the principal ways in which we absorb knowledge" (7). Whatever else can be inferred from such a statement...
Sensations of Loss
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One of the most striking features of Toni Morrison's fiction is the brilliance of its apparently casual, often bleak insights; what it knows without seeming to know at all. "The neighbors seemed pleased when the babies smothered.... They did all the right things, of course: brought food, telephoned...
Meditations on a Bird in the Hand: Ethics and Aesthetics in a Parable by Toni Morrison
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My reflections on aesthetic ideology in Toni Morrison's Nobel Prize Lecture appear in what follows as a form of call-and-response, staying very much in the neighborhood and spirit and order of the Lecture. They engage and resonate with the aesthetic principles foregrounded in the Lecture rather than...
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Publication Year: 2000