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Happy Birthday Toni Morrison!

17th February 2012

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Literary giant, Toni Morrison was born on February 18, 1931. Her novels have sparked the American imagination in libraries, homes, and classrooms across the country, and continue to influence generations of readers.

In the next few months we will publishing Toni Morrison: An Ethical Poetics by Yvette Christiansë and I am reminded of the Contemporary American Fiction Class I took with Professor Jonathan Levin where I read Song of Solomon as a junior.

I unearthed my essay on Song of Solomon that I had long since forgotten. In it I stressed that Song of Solomon is a novel that stresses the importance that a traditional past has on a contemporary American. Morrison creates a novel that is filled with largely religious references that form a commentary on contemporary American society, which appears to be moving towards secularization. However, the main character, Milkman takes a journey that shows the reader that a contemporary individual cannot break with their religion any more than Milkman can break with his cultural and religious past because it is the past that completes him. Milkman takes a leap at the end of the novel in which he lives life to the fullest, because in that second between life and death, he is free. A beautiful and painful concept.

I think that Song of Solomon may be the only work I have read by Toni Morrison. There is a copy of Paradise sitting on a bookshelf. With our upcoming publication, I just might dust both off and immerse myself in the writings of Toni Morrison, with Professor Christiansë as my guide.

Katie Sweeney

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