Abstract

Abstract:

Metaphor has become somewhat unfashionable, as new materialist and non-symptomatic reading approaches have rightly championed the value of the literal in literary criticism. But does metaphorical interpretation necessarily empty its objects of their material stakes? This essay examines Toni Morrison's engagement with metaphors of disability and animality, two categories whose associated scholarly fields have been especially critical of metaphor. The characters in A Mercy, who often read nonhuman animals and disabled humans metaphorically, model two methods of reading figurative bodies, which I term extractive and ecological. If we learn how to read bodies ecologically, metaphors need not flatten difference or material complexity, but can in fact make it more meaningful.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6547
Print ISSN
0013-8304
Pages
pp. 525-550
Launched on MUSE
2021-06-04
Open Access
No
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