Cover image for The aesthetics of Toni Morrison : speaking the unspeakable
Title:
The aesthetics of Toni Morrison : speaking the unspeakable
Author:
Conner, Marc C., 1965-
Publication Information:
Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, [2000]

©2000
Physical Description:
xxviii, 153 pages ; 24 cm
Language:
English
Contents:
Introduction: aesthetics and the African American novel -- "Aesthetic" and "rapport" in Toni Morrison's Sula / Language that bears witness: the Black English oral tradition in the works of Toni Morrison / Towards the limits of mystery: the grotesque in Toni Morrison's Beloved / From the sublime to the beautiful: the aesthetic progression of Toni Morrison / Toni Morrison's beauty formula / Contentions in the House of Chloe: Morrison's Tar baby / Sensations of loss / Meditations on a bird in the hand: ethics and aesthetics in a parable by Toni Morrison
Added Author:
ISBN:
9781578062843

9781578062850
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library PS3563.O8749 Z53 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

A traditional yet fresh approach to grasping the power of Morrison's writing


Summary

Nobel laureate Toni Morrison's novels have almost exclusively been examined as sagas illuminating history, race, culture, and gender politics. This gathering of eight essays by top scholars probes Morrison's novels and her growing body of nonfiction and critical work for the complex and potent aesthetic elements that have made her a major American novelist of the twentieth century.

Through traditional aesthetic concepts such as the sublime, the beautiful, and the grotesque, through issues of form, narrative, and language, and through questions of affect and reader response, the nine essays in this volume bring into relief the dynamic and often overlooked range within Morrison's writing. Employing aesthetic ideas that range from the ancient Greeks to contemporary research in the black English oral tradition, The Aesthetics of Toni Morrison shows the potency of these ideas for interpreting Morrison's writing. This is a force Morrison herself has often suggested in her claims that Greek tragedy bears a striking similarity to "Afro-American communal structures."

At the same time each essay attends to the ways in which Morrison also challenges traditional aesthetic concepts, establishing the African American and female voices that are essential to her sensibility. The result is a series of readings that simultaneously expands our understanding of Morrison's work and also provokes new thinking about an aesthetic tradition that is nearly 2,500 years old.

These essays offer a rich complement to the dominant approaches in Morrison scholarship by revealing aspects of her work that purely ideological approaches have obscured or about which they have remained oddly silent. Each essay focuses particularly on the relations between the aesthetic and the ethical in Morrison's writing and between the artistic production and its role in the world at large. These relations show the rich political implications that aesthetic analysis engenders.

By treating both Morrison's fiction and her nonfiction, the essays reveal a mind and imagination that have long been intimately engaged with the questions and traditions of the aesthetic domain. The result is a provocative and original contribution to Morrison scholarship, and to scholarship in American letters generally.


Reviews 2

Choice Review

In his introduction, Conner (Washington and Lee Univ.) describes the continuing debate about the African American novel as political object and as aesthetic object. Since most critics have read Morrison's work with an emphasis on the political or ideological, the eight essays collected here assume its political content and focus instead on the rich and varied elements of Morrison's art. Barbara Johnson identifies the way in which the aesthetic in Sula gives form to the unspeakable, to "trauma, taboo, and violation." Yvonne Atkinson examines the oral traditions of black English, including "signifyin'," call/response, witness/testify, and improvisation, and Susan Corey analyzes Morrison's use of the positive and negative grotesque in Beloved. For Conner, Morrison's aesthetic progresses from depictions of the sublime--of dark, inhuman, and unspeakable experiences--to the realm of the beautiful. Katherine Stern shows how Morrison and her characters grapple with and redefine the notion of beauty, and Maria DiBattista distinguishes between the novelist and storyteller to demonstrate how Tar Baby is more fable or folktale than novel. Michael Wood examines the nameless losses that find voice in Paradise; and, last, Cheryl Lester meditates on the Nobel Prize lecture in which parable gives aesthetic form to ethics. Recommended for all undergraduate and graduate libraries supporting African American studies. S. Vander Closter Rhode Island School of Design


Choice Review

In his introduction, Conner (Washington and Lee Univ.) describes the continuing debate about the African American novel as political object and as aesthetic object. Since most critics have read Morrison's work with an emphasis on the political or ideological, the eight essays collected here assume its political content and focus instead on the rich and varied elements of Morrison's art. Barbara Johnson identifies the way in which the aesthetic in Sula gives form to the unspeakable, to "trauma, taboo, and violation." Yvonne Atkinson examines the oral traditions of black English, including "signifyin'," call/response, witness/testify, and improvisation, and Susan Corey analyzes Morrison's use of the positive and negative grotesque in Beloved. For Conner, Morrison's aesthetic progresses from depictions of the sublime--of dark, inhuman, and unspeakable experiences--to the realm of the beautiful. Katherine Stern shows how Morrison and her characters grapple with and redefine the notion of beauty, and Maria DiBattista distinguishes between the novelist and storyteller to demonstrate how Tar Baby is more fable or folktale than novel. Michael Wood examines the nameless losses that find voice in Paradise; and, last, Cheryl Lester meditates on the Nobel Prize lecture in which parable gives aesthetic form to ethics. Recommended for all undergraduate and graduate libraries supporting African American studies. S. Vander Closter Rhode Island School of Design


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