Synopses & Reviews
Acclaimed for the lyric beauty of her prose, Toni Morrison is recognized as one of America's finest novelists. But the distinguished career of this Nobel Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winning author encompasses many literary genres – including editor, essayist, playwright, children's book author, and librettist.
In this compelling new study, Valerie Smith analyzes the celebrated fiction of Morrison in relation to her critical writing about the process of reading and writing literature, the relationship between readers and writers, and the cultural contributions of African-American literature. Through a close reading of Morrison’s novels, children’s books, short story, and other works as they relate to her cultural and literary criticism, Smith reveals the inextricable links between Morrison’s aesthetic practice and her political vision, arguing that Morrison’s writing simultaneously exposes the ways that language can fracture our sense of common humanity, while binding readers into a sense of a shareable existence. Toni Morrison: Writing the Moral Imagination offers provocative new insights and a refreshingly original contribution to the scholarship of one of the most important -- and beloved -- contemporary American writers.
“This concise volume will be of special value to less experienced (including high school) readers who want to go deeply into Toni Morrison’s work, and it provides an invaluable starting point for anyone who wants to understand the works themselves in their cultural contexts. Highly recommended.” (Choice, 1 March 2013)
This compelling study explores the inextricable links between the Nobel laureate’s aesthetic practice and her political vision, through an analysis of the key texts as well as her lesser-studied works, books for children, and most recent novels.
- Offers provocative new insights and a refreshingly original contribution to the scholarship of one of the most important contemporary American writers
- Analyzes the celebrated fiction of Morrison in relation to her critical writing about the process of reading and writing literature, the relationship between readers and writers, and the cultural contributions of African-American literature
- Features extended analyses of Morrison’s lesser-known works, most recent novels, and books for children as well as the key texts
About the Author
Valerie Smith is Dean of the College, the Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature, and Professor of English and African American Studies at Princeton University, USA. Her numerous awards include fellowships from the Alphonse G. Fletcher Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Smith is also the author of Self-Discovery and Authority in Afro-American Narrative (1988) and Not Just Race, Not Just Gender: Black Feminist Readings (1998).
Table of Contents
1 The Bluest Eye and Sula 19
2 Song of Solomon and Tar Baby 41
3 Beloved 61
4 Jazz and Paradise 77
5 Books for Young Readers, Love and A Mercy 99
Epilogue: Home 131
Further Reading 137
Works Cited 141