On the Southern Literary Trail discussion

Beloved
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Author: Toni Morrison > Beloved as feminist literature

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Jessie J (subseti) | 324 comments I read Beloved years and years ago as part of a feminist lit. class. It will be interesting to read it as Southern lit. this time around!

I found this folder in the drop-down menu, but her first name needs to be changed from "Tony" to "Toni."

Jessie


Zorro (ZorroM) | 163 comments I read Beloved with Oprah. Although I won't be re-reading, I will follow this thread with interest and occasional comments. Thanks for initiating the discussion, Jessie.

This book really opened my eyes to the horrors of the slave trade and especially 'the Middle Passage'.


Zorro (ZorroM) | 163 comments Everitt, Have you found any interviews in which TM responds to being labeled a 'Southern' writer? I wonder what she says to that categorization?

She has only lived and worked in the South for a very few years.

Toni Morrison was born in Ohio and Beloved takes place mostly in Ohio.


Jessie J (subseti) | 324 comments Zorro wrote: "Everitt, Have you found any interviews in which TM responds to being labeled a 'Southern' writer? I wonder what she says to that categorization?

She has only lived and worked in the South for ..."


I've never thought of her work, in total, as "Southern," but "Song of Solomon" has always been a Southern novel for me.


Jessie J (subseti) | 324 comments Everitt wrote: "She is talking about the book "Paradise" not "Beloved" but that she rejects -isms and -ists labels I think should inform and qualify a discussion about feminism and Morrison."

Since authors don't always get to define what literary movements accept them, I'm not sure that this is all that relevant. If she says she isn't a feminist, fine. But Feminist Studies Departments the world over still assign her books in class. There are also books assigned that were written well before "feminism" was a gleam in anyone's eye. ;^)

However, back to "Beloved," here's a New York Times article that gives some background about why she wrote that particular book.

http://www.nytimes.com/1987/08/26/boo...

Jessie


Jessie J (subseti) | 324 comments Beware the article I posted above, because it may have some spoilers. But here is the essence of the response I wanted to make to Everitt's comment, from the article:

"Ms. Morrison said that unlike some authors, who despise being labeled -a Jewish writer, for instance, or a Southern writer - she does not mind being called a black writer, or a black woman writer. ''I've decided to define that, rather than having it be defined for me,'' she said. ''In the beginning, people would say, 'Do you regard yourself as a black writer, or as a writer?' and they also used the word woman with it - woman writer. So at first I was glib and said I'm a black woman writer, because I understood that they were trying to suggest that I was 'bigger' than that, or better than that. I simply refused to accept their view of bigger and better. I really think the range of emotions and perceptions I have had access to as a black person and as a female person are greater than those of people who are neither. I really do. So it seems to me that my world did not shrink because I was a black female writer. It just got bigger.''"


Jessie J (subseti) | 324 comments Everitt wrote: "Jessie, it seems to me that you have two contradictory points of view here. First you say, "Since authors don't always get to define what literary movements accept them, I'm not sure that this is a..."

No, I see what you're saying (about me reversing my opinion), but I don't think so. ;^)

As you say, Morrison isn't defining herself as a feminist author by saying she is a woman author. Those are two different things. You could say that Thomas Hardy is a feminist author, but he is not a woman author.

But both books address ideas that are relevant for feminist studies, even though the authors would not style themselves "feminists."

I think that all I'm trying to say is that we can still talk about the feminist aspects of the novel without having to worry about what Morrison says about herself. In her life as an author, it's about semantics, which is more what I wanted to point out by the quote than anything else:

"because I understood that they were trying to suggest that I was 'bigger' than that, or better than that. I simply refused to accept their view of bigger and better."

In my view, Morrison is a contrary you-know-what, and I can't help but feel that part of her contrariness was in action in the "I would never write any 'ist.' I don’t write 'ist' novels" quote. ;^)

And I *love* your neurologist quote, Everitt!


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