Beloved by Toni MorrisonNominated as one of America's best-loved novels by PBS's The Great American Read
Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe's new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement.
The Bluest Eye by Toni MorrisonPecola Breedlove, a young black girl, prays every day for beauty. Mocked by other children for the dark skin, curly hair, and brown eyes that set her apart, she yearns for normalcy, for the blond hair and blue eyes that she believes will allow her to finally fit in.Yet as her dream grows more fervent, her life slowly starts to disintegrate in the face of adversity and strife. A powerful examination of our obsession with beauty and conformity, Toni Morrison's virtuosic first novel asks powerful questions about race, class, and gender with the subtlety and grace that have always characterized her writing.
God Help the Child by Toni MorrisonSpare and unsparing, God Help the Child--the first novel by Toni Morrison to be set in our current moment--weaves a tale about the way the sufferings of childhood can shape, and misshape, the life of the adult. At the center: a young woman who calls herself Bride, whose stunning blue-black skin is only one element of her beauty, her boldness and confidence, her success in life, but which caused her light-skinned mother to deny her even the simplest forms of love. There is Booker, the man Bride loves, and loses to anger. Rain, the mysterious white child with whom she crosses paths. And finally, Bride's mother herself, Sweetness, who takes a lifetime to come to understand that "what you do to children matters. And they might never forget." A fierce and provocative novel that adds a new dimension to the matchless oeuvre of Toni Morrison.
Home by Toni MorrisonAn angry and self-loathing veteran of the Korean War, Frank Money finds himself back in racist America after enduring trauma on the front lines that left him with more than just physical scars. His home--and himself in it--may no longer be as he remembers it, but Frank is shocked out of his crippling apathy by the need to rescue his medically abused younger sister and take her back to the small Georgia town they come from, which he's hated all his life. As Frank revisits the memories from childhood and the war that leave him questioning his sense of self, he discovers a profound courage he thought he could never possess again. A deeply moving novel about an apparently defeated man finding his manhood--and his home.
Jazz by Toni MorrisonIn the afterglow of a clean triumph--her widely celebrated, Pulitzer Prize-winning best-seller, Beloved--Toni Morrison moves to even higher ground. This, her eagerly awaited new novel, Jazz, is spellbinding for the haunting passion of its profound love story, and for the bittersweet lyricism and refined sensuality of its powerful and elegant style. It is winter, barely three days into 1926, seven years after Armistice; we are in the scintillating City, around Lenox Avenue, "when all the wars are over and there will never be another one...At last, at last, everything's ahead...Here comes the new. Look out. There goes the sad stuff. The bad stuff. The things-nobody-could-help stuff." But amid the euphoric decisiveness, a tragedy ensues among people who had train-danced into the City, from points south and west, in search of promise. Joe Trace--in his fifties, door-to-door salesman of Cleopatra beauty products, erstwhile devoted husband--shoots to death his lover of three months, impetuous, eighteen-year-old Dorcas ("Everything was like a picture show to her"). At the funeral, his determined, hard-working wife, Violet, herself a hairdresser--who is given to stumbling into dark mental cracks, and who talks mostly to birds--tries with a knife to disfigure the corpse. In a dazzling act of jazz-like improvisation, moving seamlessly in and out of past, present, and future, a mysterious voice--whose identity is a matter of each reader's imagination--weaves this brilliant fiction, at the same time showing how its blues are informed by the brutal exigencies of slavery. Richly combining history, legend, reminiscence, this voice captures as never before the ineffable mood, the complex humanity, of black urban life at a moment in our century we assumed we understood. Jazz is an unprecedented and astonishing invention, a landmark on the American literary landscape--a novel unforgettable and for all time.
Love by Toni MorrisonIn life, Bill Cosey enjoyed the affections of many women, who would do almost anything to gain his favor. In death his hold on them may be even stronger. Wife, daughter, granddaughter, employee, mistress: As Morrison's protagonists stake their furious claim on Cosey's memory and estate, using everything from intrigue to outright violence, she creates a work that is shrewd, funny, erotic, and heartwrenching.
A Mercy by Toni MorrisonIn the 1680s the slave trade in the Americas is still in its infancy. Jacob Vaark is an Anglo-Dutch trader and adventurer, with a small holding in the harsh North. Despite his distaste for dealing in “flesh,” he takes a small slave girl in part payment for a bad debt from a plantation owner in Catholic Maryland. This is Florens, who can read and write and might be useful on his farm. Rejected by her mother, Florens looks for love, first from Lina, an older servant woman at her new master's house, and later from the handsome blacksmith, an African, never enslaved, who comes riding into their lives.
A Mercy reveals what lies beneath the surface of slavery. But at its heart, like Beloved, it is the ambivalent, disturbing story of a mother and a daughter—a mother who casts off her daughter in order to save her, and a daughter who may never exorcise that abandonment.
Paradise by Toni Morrison"Rumors had been whispered for more than a year. Outrages that had been accumulating all along took shape as evidence. A mother was knocked down the stairs by her cold-eyed daughter. Four damaged infants were born in one family. Daughters refused to get out of bed. Brides disappeared on their honeymoons. Two brothers shot each other on New Year's Day. Trips to Demby for VD shots common. And what went on at the Oven these days was not to be believed . . . The proof they had been collecting since the terrible discovery in the spring could not be denied: the one thing that connected all these catastrophes was in the Convent. And in the Convent were those women." In Paradise--her first novel since she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature--Toni Morrison gives us a bravura performance. As the book begins deep in Oklahoma early one morning in 1976, nine men from Ruby (pop. 360), in defense of "the one all-black town worth the pain," assault the nearby Convent and the women in it. From the town's ancestral origins in 1890 to the fateful day of the assault, Paradise tells the story of a people ever mindful of the relationship between their spectacular history and a void "Out There . . . where random and organized evil erupted when and where it chose." Richly imagined and elegantly composed, Paradise weaves a powerful mystery.
Remember : The Journey to School Integration by Toni MorrisonToni Morrison has collected a treasure chest of archival photographs that depict the historical events surrounding school desegregation. These unforgettable images serve as the inspiration for Ms. Morrison's text--a fictional account of the dialogue and emotions of the children who lived during the era of "separate but equal" schooling. Remember is a unique pictorial and narrative journey that introduces children to a watershed period in American history and its relevance to us today.
The Source of Self-Regard by Toni MorrisonArguably the most celebrated and revered writer of our time now gives us a new nonfiction collection--a rich gathering of her essays, speeches, and meditations on society, culture, and art, spanning four decades. The Source of Self-Regard is brimming with all the elegance of mind and style, the literary prowess and moral compass that are Toni Morrison's inimitable hallmark. It is divided into three parts: the first is introduced by a powerful prayer for the dead of 9/11; the second by a searching meditation on Martin Luther King Jr., and the last by a heart-wrenching eulogy for James Baldwin. In the writings and speeches included here, Morrison takes on contested social issues: the foreigner, female empowerment, the press, money, "black matter(s)," and human rights. She looks at enduring matters of culture: the role of the artist in society, the literary imagination, the Afro-American presence in American literature, and in her Nobel lecture, the power of language itself. And here too is piercing commentary on her own work (including The Bluest Eye, Sula, Tar Baby, Jazz, Beloved, and Paradise) and that of others, among them, painter and collagist Romare Bearden, author Toni Cade Bambara, and theater director Peter Sellars. In all, The Source of Self-Regard is a luminous and essential addition to Toni Morrison's oeuvre.
Sula by Toni MorrisonTwo girls who grow up to become women. Two friends who become something worse than enemies. In this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison tells the story of Nel Wright and Sula Peace, who meet as children in the small town of Medallion, Ohio. Their devotion is fierce enough to withstand bullies and the burden of a dreadful secret. It endures even after Nel has grown up to be a pillar of the black community and Sula has become a pariah. But their friendship ends in an unforgivable betrayal—or does it end? Terrifying, comic, ribald and tragic, Sula is a work that overflows with life.
Tar Baby by Toni MorrisonRavishingly beautiful and emotionally incendiary, Tar Baby is Toni Morrison's reinvention of the love story. Jadine Childs is a black fashion model with a white patron, a white boyfriend, and a coat made out of ninety perfect sealskins. Son is a black fugitive who embodies everything she loathes and desires. As Morrison follows their affair, which plays out from the Caribbean to Manhattan and the deep South, she charts all the nuances of obligation and betrayal between blacks and whites, masters and servants, and men and women.
What Moves at the Margin by Toni MorrisonWhat Moves at the Margin collects three decades of Toni Morrison's writings about her work, her life, literature, and American society. The works included in this volume range from 1971, when Morrison (b. 1931) was a new editor at Random House and a beginning novelist, to 2002 when she was a professor at Princeton University and Nobel Laureate. Even in the early days of her career, in between editing other writers, writing her own novels, and raising two children, she found time to speak out on subjects that mattered to her. From the reviews and essays written for major publications to her moving tributes to other writers to the commanding acceptance speeches for major literary awards, Morrison has consistently engaged as a writer outside the margins of her fiction. These works provide a unique glimpse into Morrison's viewpoint as an observer of the world, the arts, and the changing landscape of American culture. The first section of the book, "Family and History," includes Morrison's writings about her family, Black women, Black history, and her own works. The second section, "Writers and Writing," offers her assessments of writers she admires and books she reviewed, edited at Random House, or gave a special affirmation to with a foreword or an introduction. The final section, "Politics and Society," includes essays and speeches where Morrison addresses issues in American society and the role of language and literature in the national culture. Among other pieces, this collection includes a reflection on 9/11, reviews of such seminal books by Black writers as Albert Murray's South to a Very Old Place and Gayl Jones's Corregidora, an essay on teaching moral values in the university, a eulogy for James Baldwin, and Morrison's Nobel lecture. Taken together, What Moves at the Margin documents the response to our time by one of American literature's most thoughtful and eloquent writers. Toni Morrison is the Robert F. Goheen Professor Emerita at the Center for Creative and Performing Arts at Princeton University and is the author of Sula, Song of Solomon, Beloved, Paradise, and other novels. She has received the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature. Carolyn C. Denard is the author of scholarly essays on Toni Morrison and the forthcoming Cambridge Introduction to Toni Morrison. She is Associate Dean of the College at Brown University and founder of the Toni Morrison Society.
Understanding Morrison's Works
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The Cambridge Companion to Toni MorrisonNobel laureate Toni Morrison is one of the most widely studied of contemporary American authors. Her novels, particularly Beloved, have had a dramatic impact on the American canon and attracted considerable critical commentary. This 2007 Companion introduces and examines her oeuvre as a whole, the first evaluation to include not only her famous novels, but also her other literary works (short story, drama, musical, and opera), her social and literary criticism, and her career as an editor and teacher. Innovative contributions from internationally recognized critics and academics discuss Morrison's themes, narrative techniques, language and political philosophy, and explain the importance of her work to American studies and world literature. This comprehensive and accessible approach, together with a chronology and guide to further reading, makes this an essential book for students and scholars of African American literature.
Can't I Love What I Criticize? : The Masculine and MorrisonTaking a close look at all the key male figures in Toni Morrison's eight novels, this book explores Morrison's admitted, but critically neglected, interest in the relationships between African American men and women and the "axes" on which these relationships turn. Most Morrison scholarship deals with her female characters. Can't I Love What I Criticize? offers a response to this imbalance and to Morrison's call for more work on men, who remain, in her words, "outside of that little community value thing." The book also considers the barriers between black men and women thrown up by their participation in a larger, historically racist culture of competition, ownership, sexual repression, and fixed ideals about physical beauty and romantic love. Black women, Morrison says, bear their crosses "extremely well," and black men, although they have been routinely emasculated by "white men, period," have managed to maintain a feisty "magic" that everybody wants but nobody else has. Understanding Morrison's treatment of her male characters, says Susan Mayberry, becomes crucial to grasping her success in "countering the damage done by a spectrum of sometimes misguided isms"--including white American feminism. Morrison's version of masculinity suggests that black men have "successfully retained their special vitality in spite of white male resistance" and that "their connections to black women have saved their lives." To single out her men is not to negate the preeminence of her women; rather, it is to recognize the interconnectedness and balance between them.
See Chapter 4: Practicing Refusal: Narrative Interrogations of the Property Paradigm in A Mercy. Examines the property paradigm in Toni Morrison's A Mercy.
Critical Companion to Toni MorrisonToni Morrison, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993, is perhaps the most important living American author today, and certainly one of the most popular in college and high school courses. Her novels, including ""Sula"", ""Song of Solomon"", ""Beloved"", and ""Paradise"", have won almost every major award available to them. In addition, her influence as a critic, book editor, and mentor to other writers has been incalculable. ""Critical Companion to Toni Morrison"" examines Morrison's life and writing, featuring critical analyses of her work and themes, as well as entries on related topics and relevant people, places, and influences.
Critical Insights: BelovedToni Morrison?s 1987 tale of Sethe, an escaped slave living in Cincinnati and struggling to overcome her past, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988 along with instant international acclaim. Several essays in this volume study major themes of Beloved, including motherhood, the psychological impacts of slavery, and repression of memory, as well as connections to the real-life slave who inspired Morrison?s story.
Critical Insights: Toni MorrisonEssays consider Morrison's body of work and the cultural contexts in which that work was written. In an essay by leading African American literary scholar Trudier Harris readers will get a sweeping overview of the importance of Morrison's first six novels. Other essays examine community and identity in works such as Beloved, Jazz, and Paradise.
Toni Morrison's Song of SolomonThe essays in this volume represent the major currents in critical thinking about Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison's widely acclaimed examination of the individual quest for self-knowledge in the context of African-American experience.
Toni Morrison: A Writer's Work (51:45)Toni Morrison exists in two worlds: the visible world, bustling around her, and the world of her novels, whose characters tell about an interior reality hidden from the eyes of strangers. In her work, Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison has transported millions of readers into the experience of being black in America and confronting the realities of race. In this program with Bill Moyers, Morrison discusses the characters in her work, the people in her life, the power of love, and how the invented world of fiction connects to life.
Toni Morrison: In Black And White (24:21)Winner of numerous awards, most notably the Nobel Prize for Literature, Toni Morrison made it possible for a new generation of African-American writers to have a voice in the mainstream literary dialogue. Her evocative, multilayered tales illuminate the black experience and have the power to change how readers look at American history. In this program, Morrison explains her statement that “American literature is incoherent without the contribution of African-American writers.” Part of the series In Black and White: Six Profiles of African American Authors.
Toni Morrison Uncensored (31:31)In this compelling program, world-renowned author Toni Morrison candidly answers questions regarding how she became a writer, the pain of empathizing with her characters, the sensual nature of her novels, and how it felt to win the Nobel Prize. In addition, she pulls no punches discussing how she first became aware of her racial otherness, how writing for a black audience has kept her work from becoming derivative, the societal uses of racism, and how racism leads to barbarism when individuals abdicate their humanity.