Sunday, April 20, 2008


I'm on my fourth time through Toni Morrison's Love, and it's a provocative collection of pages. This is sort of my thesis--those of you with literary leanings, I'd love for you to tell me what you think.

TM writes about race in all eight of her novels, and about class, gender, prejudice, history, family, etc. In this novel (her most recent, although a new one is supposed to come out in the fall), Morrison plays with all sorts of these same issues, and they're all overlapping and complicated. We have a 52-year-old man marrying an 11-year-old girl (he's rich, she's poor; he's lighter skinned, she's darker skinned; he's a man, she's a prepubescent woman). We also have a dead (it turns out) character-narrator, in part. And lots of competing understandings of the same things from different characters.

Morrison also repeatedly refuses labels--she doesn't like "isms." So she's not into feminism, she says, no matter how many feminists love her books. And she's not into theism, no matter how many biblical references she makes. (One of the most hilarious is naming a character "Second Corinthians" in a book called Song of Solomon. Top that. Seriously.) She also accuses academics of using dead, meaningless language.

So this academic is assigned to write a 25-page paper on the novel, and I'm thinking that Toni Morrison (as a representative of contemporary literature) does theory--she plays with all sorts of "-isms"--but she does it in narrative form, which allows so much more complexity and nuance and relationship between issues. And I'm kind of wondering if creative writers have made this whole literary criticism/theory thing obsolete, because they've taken it upon themselves to enact and thematize (really elegantly) all these ideas scholars clumsily write endless difficult papers on.


No comments:

Post a Comment