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The Timeless Toni Morrison

The Past and The Present in Toni Morrison’s Fiction. A Tribute to Toni Morrison on Occasion of Her 85th Birthday

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Edited By Agnieszka Łobodziec and Blossom N. Fondo

The book presents a cultural study of Toni Morrison’s fiction, focused on her representations of the past and present, along with the relationship between the two. The authors analyze Morrison’s texts not solely as aesthetic, autonomous objects but as manifestations of a cultural and creative practice closely related to actuality. They examine various incorporations of history in Morrison’s writings. The contributions search out thematic continuities as well as discernable ruptures in the texts while noting futuristic tendencies in Morrison's novels and the texts’ envisagement of the human race.

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Moving Beyond the Veil of Double Consciousness: Making the Past, Present in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon (Tammie Jenkins)

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Tammie Jenkins Independent Scholar

Moving Beyond the Veil of Double Consciousness: Making the Past, Present in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon

Abstract: Writing against larger societal conversations of historical authenticity, fictionalized accounts, and notions of literary realism, Morrison uses her works to politicize and to re-imagine stories of Black lived experiences and social realities using a contemporary lens. Often tapping into stories from our recent past, Morrison explores these narratives as “negotiated spaces marked by historical, symbolic, and social mediations” (Giroux 347) through characters whose experiences transcend the veil while reflecting a double consciousness (DuBois, 1903). Drawing on W. E. B. DuBois’s ideas of the veil as a metaphor for the twoness that he argued was innate in the lived experiences of Black people, this essay uses Morrison’s novel Song of Solomon as a case study examining the ways in which historical facts and “fictions” are used to recreate the genealogical histories of Black people (Catteral, 2005; Dyson, 2005). Employing the following guiding questions: What are the problematics of Morrison’s use of a double consciousness to construct the genealogical histories of her characters? What metaphors are embedded in Morrison’s portrayal of Black people’s genealogical histories? How does Song of Solomon serve as a re-imagining of Black history and folklore in a present day context? Using the Dead family, specifically the character of Macon “Milkman” Dead III, Morrison articulates the role that the past plays in understanding the present, while opening spaces for...

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