Unflinching Gaze: Morrison and Faulkner Re-Envisioned
The fifteen essays in this collection explore the resonant intertextual relationship between the fiction of William Faulkner and that of Toni Morrison. Although the two writers are separated by a generation as well as by differences of race, gender, and regional origin, this close critical examination of the creative dialogue between their oeuvres is both timely and appropriate.
Toni Morrison's brilliant and powerful novels of the past two decades have accorded her a position in the front ranks of American writers, and like Faulkner before her, she has been awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. She has publicly acknowledged her artistic indebtedness to Faulkner on a number of occasions. But Morrison also resists the Faulknerian heritage in profound ways. This resistance is certainly, in part at least, the natural reluctance of any highly original artist to be regarded as the product of her predecessor's influence. This push-pull of Morrison's acceptance of and resistance to the Faulknerian heritage provides a major source for the critical energy exhibited in this collection.
Each contributor, whether addressing broad, general issues in both writers or whether detailing similarities and differences in particular works, finds that the authors illuminate each other. No reader of Faulkner will ever read him in the same way after encountering Morrison.
Carol A. Kolmerten is a professor of English at Hood College. Stephen M. Ross is director of the Office of Challenge Grants, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the coauthor of Reading Faulkner: The Sound and the Fury. Judith Bryant Wittenberg is a professor and chair of the English department at Simmons College.
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