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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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‘We Are the Furrow of His Brow’: Countering Mythic History in Morrison’s Paradise (Ji Hyun Lee)

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Ji Hyun LeeCornell University

‘We Are the Furrow of His Brow’: Countering Mythic History in Morrison’s Paradise

Abstract: Toni Morrison’s Paradise (1997), with its multiple fragmented, layered, and competing narratives, explores the complications that can arise from language and storytelling. This paper examines one story at the center of the novel that informs the rest of the narratives as well as the fates of all the characters: the Disallowing, a traumatic rebuff that leads to the founding of the town of Haven. Far from being forgotten, this originary trauma is fetishistically repeated and even mythologized in order to master it. However, the highly edited mythic history is actually exploited by the New Fathers of Ruby, the descendants of Haven’s leaders, to control the rest of the town’s populace; they practice the same exclusionary tactics that their ancestors suffered from, becoming what they shunned. By closely examining the formation, transmission, and reception of the Disallowing myth, this paper studies some of the unintended consequences of trying to control history and argues that a multitude of voices and truths is necessary to keep language alive. It explores the power and ethics of language and storytelling; it is guided by a close reading of Morrison’s Nobel Prize acceptance lecture, while also drawing on Sigmund Freud’s conception of trauma, Roland Barthes’s theory of myth, and Michel Foucault’s idea of the politics of truth. Keywords: trauma, myth, repetition, history, language, Morrison, Paradise.

The disallowing myth...

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