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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


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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The Paradox of the Master Narrative: The Contradictory Voices of Toni Morrison’s Home (Stephanie Li)


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Stephanie Li Indiana University

The Paradox of the Master Narrative: The Contradictory Voices of Toni Morrison’s Home

Abstract: Much of Toni Morrison’s writing, both non-fiction and fiction, has been dedicated to exploring the pernicious consequences of what she has termed the master narrative. She describes this key concept as “whatever ideological script that is being imposed by the people in authority on everybody else.” As arguably the most celebrated American author of her time, has she not become one of the “people in authority,” able to impose ideological scripts upon others? We must thus consider how master narratives derived from fiction or art may become totalizing social scripts that limit human individuality and possibility. Ever attentive to her own place in American letters as well as to the importance of welcoming new voices into critical and artistic discourses, Morrison, in her three most recent novels, seeks to undermine her prodigious narrative authority, and thereby the very master narrative associated with authorial omniscience. In particular, Morrison’s 2012 novel Home demonstrates how every story reflects its teller; narrative is inevitably composed of the biases and limitations produced by individual experiences, including her own. Moreover, if Morrison is the premier beneficiary of what Mark Anthony Neal terms the “one black woman public intellectual at a time” rule, her most recent fiction would seem to affirm the importance of engaging multiple voices that recognize the depth and diversity within black female subjectivity. While there is a...

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