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Toni MorrisonMemory and Meaning$
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Adrienne Lanier Seward and Justine Tally

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781628460193

Published to University Press of Mississippi: May 2015

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781628460193.001.0001

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“Dangerously Free”

“Dangerously Free”

Morrison’s Unspeakable Territory

(p.7) “Dangerously Free”
Toni Morrison

Philip Weinstein

University Press of Mississippi

This essay testifies to Toni Morrison’s willingness to probe racial experiences that are painful to the touch. As a novelist Morrison enters her “own” territory with the same self-risking dedication that she draws on when entering “other” territory. “Imagining is not merely looking or looking at,” she writes; “nor is it taking oneself intact into the other. It is, for the purposes of the work, becoming” (4). A “becoming” in which one’s prior identity does not remain intact poses the question (notably in The Bluest Eye): what are the risks of “becoming” what one writes about? What happens to the faculty of judgment in these moments, especially when the character that the writer has “become” approaches the monstrous? Weinstein examines not the white “others” Morrison has created, but rather the reflexive light Morrison has shed on her “own” people as she explores extremes of white-conditioned black distress. (148 words)

Keywords:   Black identity, risks of romanticizing, reflexive writing, The Bluest Eye, “becoming”

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