Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye

Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye

Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye

Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye


-- Presents the most important 20th-century criticism on major works from The Odyssey through modern literature

-- The critical essays reflect a variety of schools of criticism

-- Contains critical biographies, notes on the contributing critics, a chronology of the author's life, and an index


The Bluest Eye,Morrison's first novel, was published when she was thirty‐ nine and is anything but novice work. Michael Wood, an authentic literary critic, made the best comment on this "lucid and eloquent" narrative that I have ever seen:

Each member of the family interprets and acts out of his or her ugliness, but none of them understands that the all-knowing master is not God but only history and habit; the projection of their own numbed collusion with the mythology of beauty and ugliness that oppresses them beyond their already grim social oppression.

Morrison herself, in an Afterword of 1994, looked back across a quarter-century and emphasized her "reliance for full comprehension in codes embedded in black culture." A reader who is not black or female must do the best he can; like Michael Wood, I have found The Bluest Eye to be completely lucid since I first read it, back in 1970. Like Sula and The Song of Solomon after it, the book seems to me successful in universal terms, even if one shares neither Morrison's origins nor her ideologies. Beloved, Morrison's most famous romance narrative, seems to be to be problematic, though it has reached a vast audience. A generation or two will have to pass before a balanced judgment could be rendered upon Beloved orMorrison's later novels, Jazz and Paradise. But her early phase has many of the canonical qualifications of the traditional Western literary kind that she fiercely rejects as being irrelevant to her.

The essays I have reprinted in this volume are, almost all of them, ideological, and follow Morrison's lead in being the kind of appreciation that she wants. I add a brief appreciation here, in the full awareness that I am necessarily incorrect, since I am an outworn aesthete, and not a "cultural . . .

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