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Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
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Jun 29, 2011

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"Song of Solomon" requires rapt attention and close analysis, but is ultimately very rewarding. It is stuffed with symbolism, imagery, and biblical allusions that take forever to unpack, but every time you think you've turned over every literary stone, there is always another to be found. For that, it is rewarding, even if it seems over the top at first. The "magical realism" component requires a mild suspension of disbelief, but if you're aware of what she's doing, you won't be unnerved by it. Similar efforts at "literary loading" (Dan Brown's pop culture dross, "The Da Vinci Code", comes to mind) often fall short, but Morrison pulls it off due to her Biblical scholarship and seamless integration of the historical events which mobilized the Civil Rights Movement.
The theme of abandonment is central. How come a consequence of liberation is abandonment? When men attempt to free themselves, they are rewarded for their efforts, but the women they have left behind are shamed. A possible lesson seems to be that the price for freedom is having to take responsibility for the emotional wreckage we may incur.
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