'Toni Morrison instrumental in evolution of English language'

11 Août, 2019, 20:23 | Auteur: Christine Menetries
  • 'Toni Morrison instrumental in evolution of English language'

Nobel laureate and the creator of remarkable novels like, "Beloved", "Song of Solomon", Toni Morrison took her last breathe on Monday night at Montefiore Medical Center located at NY according to her publisher, Alfred A Knopf.

Random House senior editor Porscha Burke keeps a copy of the Toni Morrison-edited The Black Book - an expansive encyclopedia on the accomplishments of African-Americans - on her desk at work, not only as a memento of the author, but also to keep her aware of the path Morrison blazed for black women like her in the world.

Her last collection, Mouth Full of Blood (published in the United States as The Source of Self-Regard) was published as recently as February this year - and what a fitting finale that book has turned out to be. An anthology of artifacts, it featured slave auction notices, lynching photos, black-face advertisements and a fateful clipping from an 1856 newspaper. In an interview in 2012, she was asked about her life as a single mother - she married Harold Morrison in 1958 but they split while she was pregnant with their second son - and she replied: "I don't think I did any of that very well". She's not afraid to make it as singular and peculiar to her as is possible. How fortunate we are that Morrison made her imagination available to us. As a person, she calls her a "bench", a source of rest and support.

Now Morrison's voice is silent.

She said she was writing for black people in the same way that (Leo) Tolstoy wasn't writing for her.

Beloved won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988 and was a finalist for the National Book Award the previous year.

"I remember feeling overwhelmed by what the novel had to say about racism, and about notions of beauty and ugliness", he told the Associated Press in a recent email.

"People want to celebrate blackness without highlighting it", Burke said.

"Something that is loved is never lost".

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As lovely as that observation is, it is just one of many of Morrison's passages that address death, its significance, or its imminent approach.

Love (2003), A Mercy (2008) and Home (2012) preceded Morrison's final work God Help The Child in 2015.

Long-time friend, Claudia Brodsky remembered Morrison for her uncompromising belief in the power of literature.

Morrison's clear and calm response, a masterclass in take-down, concluded: "Being an African-American writer is sort of being like a Russian writer who writes about Russia, in Russian, for Russians". Her birth name was Chloe which people mispronounced, so she changed it to Toni, having taken Anthony as a confirmation name when she became a Catholic aged 12. In the telling words of Angela Davis, Morrison's "canon demonstrates the absolute and destructive absurdity of any position that would claim others lesser than or unequal" and one of her signal achievements was to relocate "our attention from the powerful to those over whom they exert power".

In an article about Chinua Achebe, the Nigerian writer and critic whose novel Things Fall Apart is considered the most widely-read book in modern African literature, Morrison wrote: "My debt to Mr Achebe is the best kind".

Morrison had considered a life as a dancer, but Jane Austen, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Richard Wright changed her mind.

"It's a reminder of what I have to carry in this space", Burke said.

"The Bluest Eye", initially rejected by two publishers, is the story of Pecola Breedlove, who sees herself as ugly for not being white.

In 1968, she moved to NY, where she worked with Angela Davis, Muhammad Ali and Chinua Achebe and honed her own voice as a writer. It is a desire she starts praying for consistently.

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