The Nobel Prize-winning author now gives us a learned, stylish, and immensely persuasive work of literary criticism that promises to change the way we read American literature even as it opens a new chapter in the American dialogue on race.
Toni Morrison's brilliant discussions of the "Africanist" presence in the fiction of Poe, Melville, Cather, and Hemingway leads to a dramatic reappraisal of the essential characteristics of our literary tradition. She shows how much the themes of freedom and individualism, manhood and innocence, depended on the existence of a black population that was manifestly unfree--and that came to serve white authors as embodiments of their own fears and desires.
Written with the artistic vision that has earned Toni Morrison a pre-eminent place in modern letters, Playing in the Dark will be avidly read by Morrison admirers as well as by students, critics, and scholars of American literature.
"By going for the American literary jugular...she places her arguments...at the very heart of contemporary public conversation about what it is to be authentically and originally American. [She] boldly...reimagines and remaps the possibility of America."
"Toni Morrison is the closest thing the country has to a national writer."
The New York Times Book Review
Possibly one of the best known and most talented Black authors, Chloe Anthony Wofford Morrison, was an American author, essayist, book editor, and college professor. She was born and grew up in Lorain, Ohio. She was the second of four children of a working class family. Her parents had difficult childhoods, with her father having witnessed a lynching of two Black businessmen who lived on his street. It was a very traumatic experience for her father, so he ended up moving to Ohio where there were more industrial jobs being offered. When Toni was about two years old, their landlord set fire to their house for non-payment of rent. They were home at the time. They laughed at the incident which she later described "as how her family kept their integrity and claimed their own life".
Morrison read frequently the works of Jane Austen and Leo Tolstoy. She took the Baptismal name of Anthony, which led to her nickname, Toni. She attended Lorain High School where she was on the debate team, participated in drama productions, and assisted with the yearbook. She then graduated from Howard University in English and the classics. Continuing her education, she completed her Master's Degree in two years from Cornell University, writing her thesis on Virginia Woolf and William Faulkner.
After graduating from Cornell, she settled in Texas, where she taught at Texas Southern University.
She has received about every prestigious award for her writing, which includes......The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, Beloved (which was made into a 1998 film), Jazz, Love, and A Mercy. Her highest honor was in 2012 when she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.