Cover image for The Toni Morrison encyclopedia
The Toni Morrison encyclopedia
Beaulieu, Elizabeth Ann.
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
x, 428 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3563.O8749 Z913 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order



Intended for lay readers and scholars alike, this reference offers a convenient overview of her life and achievements. The first book of its kind, this reference offers hundreds of alphabetically arranged entries on Morrison's works, major characters, themes, and other topics. Lengthier essays cover each of her novels, along with various approaches to her writings. Each of the entries was written by an expert contributor, and many close with suggestions for further reading. The volume concludes with a selected bibliography of major studies. All told, this book provides a remarkable overview of Morrison's primary concerns and achievements, charting a helpful course for readers who wish to venture deeper into the work of this extraordinary author.

Toni Morrison is arguably the most popular and significant contemporary African American author of all time. As a writer, she personifies courage, blending the personal and the political and doing so in a way that resonates for readers of every age, race, ethnicity, and gender. Her stories are imagined in language that is both graceful and powerful--a truly poetic prose. Morrison's works have received increased scholarly attention, and her contributions were formally recognized around the world when she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993.

Author Notes

ELIZABETH ANN BEAULIEU is Director of the Women's Studies Program at Appalachian State University, where she also teaches in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies. She is the author of Black Women Writers and the American Neo-Slave Narrative: Femininity Unfettered (Greenwood, 1999).

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

This encyclopedia covers Morrison's works, characters, locations, themes (e.g., Children0 ), and general topics (e.g., Oprah's Book Club0 ). The alphabetically arranged entries are the work of 52 contributors. Also included is a 14-page selected bibliography citing Morrison's novels, essays, stories, and interviews, as well as criticism on Morrison's works selected from books and articles. Typically, articles on themes, general topics, and works span several pages, while entries on characters and locations range from one sentence to one paragraph. A list of references concludes many, but not all, entries. Entries on Morrison's works usually provide a plot summary followed by a review of major themes within the work. For example, the entry for The Bluest Eye0 includes a discussion of racism and black female identity. Theme coverage is broad and should be useful for students. For example, the six-page article titled Migration0 discusses migration in the novels The Bluest Eye0 , Sula0 , Song of Solomon0 , Tar Baby0 , Beloved0 , Jazz0 , and Paradise0 and ends with a list of further readings. Other examples of theme headings include Hunger0 , Masculinity0 , Sex/Sexuality0 , and Trickster0 . Although a general index is included, a separate theme index might further assist readers. The Toni Morrison Encyclopedia 0 makes a nice supplement to resources such as Gale's Contemporary Authors0 and Masterplots II: African American Literature 0 (Salem, 1994) 0 as well as circulating items such as Critical Essays on Toni Morrison 0 (G. K. Hall, 1988). Intended for the scholar and the general reader, some articles may prove challenging for high-schoolers. Suitable for academic and public libraries. -- RBB Copyright 2003 Booklist

Library Journal Review

This A-to-Z guide to Toni Morrison-who in 1993 became the first black woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature and whom many consider to be the most significant African American author of our time-provides a handy overview of various aspects of her life as well as her literary achievements. The signed articles, contributed primarily by literature faculty specializing in black, Southern, or women's literature, cover a variety of Morrison-related subjects, such as her characters, influences (e.g., African folk tales), techniques (e.g., magical realism), and critical approaches to her work (e.g., feminist, historical, psychoanalytic). The tone is somewhat reverent, which is not surprising given the writers' background. Editor Beaulieu (Black Women Writers and the American Neo-Slave Narrative) provides a brief biographical study of Morrison in the introduction and rounds out the work with a strong index, a selected bibliography, and contributor profiles. Although this work is geared toward university students, the lucid writing makes it appropriate for high school-level readers as well. Morrison continues to receive extensive scholarly attention, so a reference like this, although a bit pricey, is a useful addition to most academic as well as larger public libraries.-Denise Johnson, Bradley Univ. Lib., Peoria, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

A Nobel laureate and one of the most popular contemporary African American writers, Morrison has written novels that appear on reading lists ranging from Oprah's Book Club to high school and college literature courses. Yet her work is often intricate and complex. Beaulieu's book succinctly describes the multitude of characters, often meaningfully named, as well as the symbolism, themes, and settings of all of her novels. Some of Morrison's important nonfiction is also covered--e.g., Playing in the Dark, her book on the African presence in American literature; an essay on the O.J. Simpson case in the collection Birth of a Nation'hood; and her Nobel Prize address. Entries are contributed by literary scholars and range from brief paragraphs (usually character sketches) to a few pages for more substantive thematic issues (race, slavery, folklore). The longer entries end with lists of references for further reading. The first 50 pages describe approaches to Morrison's work, including ecocritical, feminist, historical, pedagogical, postcolonial, and psychoanalytic. Overall, this alphabetically arranged volume is helpful, easy to use, and well cross-referenced. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Academic collections. M. P. Tosko University of Akron

Table of Contents

The Encyclopedia
Selected Bibliography