Toni Morrison (1931-2019)

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Caligula
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Toni Morrison (1931-2019)

#1 Post by Caligula » Tue Aug 06, 2019 9:44 am


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ando
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Re: Passages

#2 Post by ando » Tue Aug 06, 2019 1:27 pm

Caligula wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 9:44 am
Toni Morrison
R.I.P. Though there's a new doc on her life Toni Morrison Remembers is a thoughtful look at her background and influences.
Last edited by ando on Tue Aug 06, 2019 6:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: Passages

#3 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue Aug 06, 2019 2:35 pm

Huh. Read two of her books this year. I have very mixed feelings about her work, but Song of Solomon is unquestionably outstanding.

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ando
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Re: Passages

#4 Post by ando » Wed Aug 07, 2019 11:43 am

Mr Sausage wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 2:35 pm
... Song of Solomon is unquestionably outstanding.
Indeed; this book and Dostoevsky's Notes From Underground were beacons of light in my turbulent mid-teens. I'm not sure if was her intention to be seen as a champion of Black Literature but journalists sure bugged her for writing exclusively about the black community though obviously the themes she tackled were fundamentally human. Also, as every writer is, essentially, a manipulator of thought, once identified many readers were not inclined to be manipulated by her. And vice-versa, of course.

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colinr0380
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Re: Passages

#5 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Aug 07, 2019 4:12 pm

I've afraid that I am only familiar with Toni Morrison from the Jonathan Demme adaptation of Beloved, but I don't know how representative that is of the rest of her work.

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ando
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Re: Passages

#6 Post by ando » Wed Aug 07, 2019 7:07 pm

My guess is Morrison didn't like the film. I was at a public talk she did with Angela Davis years after the movie was released when someone asked her opinion of film adaptations of books. "For the most part I think they're.... awful." She went on to make the point that the inventiveness and originality found in great novels was largely lacking in Hollywood films to that date. Of course, she wouldn't publicly voice displeasure with the film largely bankrolled by the woman who also launched Morrison's resurgence as a top selling author with her monthly book club. Had she admired the film it would have been widely communicated; Morrison didn't shrink from giving praise to projects that she felt deserved it.

My opinion is that film resembles more of a horror show than Morrison's resonant novel provides. In fact, as she often admitted, the most violent act is only briefly stated, and would be hard to find had someone been in a hurry to locate it in the book. The shock value of what is seen opposed to what is felt, much less what is considered about Morrison's telling of the Margaret Garner story, had to have disappointed the author. It certain disappointed me.
Last edited by ando on Wed Aug 07, 2019 11:41 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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Gregory
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Re: Passages

#7 Post by Gregory » Wed Aug 07, 2019 7:57 pm

ando wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 7:07 pm
I was at a public talk she did with Angela Davis years after the movie was released when someone asked her opinion of film adaptations of books. "For the most part I think they're.... awful."
Aside from Beloved, what film adaptations of her work have there been?

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ando
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Re: Passages

#8 Post by ando » Wed Aug 07, 2019 9:12 pm

Gregory wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 7:57 pm
Aside from Beloved, what film adaptations of her work have there been?
None (of which I'm aware). Like William Faulkner, a writer which she admired (did a college thesis on his work, I believe), her work doesn't lend itself well to a primarily visual medium (imo). When you talk about horses; "They stood up like men" (Morrison) or your sister; "Caddy smelled like trees" (Faulkner) your cinematic take has to reflect some inner consciousness that does follow conventional narrative routes.

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Gregory
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Re: Toni Morrison (1931-2019)

#9 Post by Gregory » Wed Aug 07, 2019 9:20 pm

That's what I thought, and it's odd that she was speaking about the shortcomings of movie adaptations (plural) of her work when apparently only one exists! It certainly narrows it down that she was talking principally or solely about Beloved.

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Re: Toni Morrison (1931-2019)

#10 Post by Glowingwabbit » Wed Aug 07, 2019 9:27 pm

Gregory wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 9:20 pm
That's what I thought, and it's odd that she was speaking about the shortcomings of movie adaptations (plural) of her work when apparently only one exists! It certainly narrows it down that she was talking principally or solely about Beloved.
She was talking about film adaptations in general.

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Gregory
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Re: Toni Morrison (1931-2019)

#11 Post by Gregory » Wed Aug 07, 2019 11:02 pm

Oops, I misread what ando said as "asked her opinion of film adaptations of her books."

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ando
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Re: Toni Morrison (1931-2019)

#12 Post by ando » Wed Aug 07, 2019 11:55 pm

Gregory wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 11:02 pm
Oops, I misread what ando said as "asked her opinion of film adaptations of her books."
Found a video of the event, Literacy, Libraries & Liberation, that I attended several years back; her comments (in regard to adaptations begins around 105:28). It was an interesting discussion, in any case.

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thirtyframesasecond
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Re: Toni Morrison (1931-2019)

#13 Post by thirtyframesasecond » Thu Aug 08, 2019 2:04 pm

I read Beloved for my English Literature A Level. I always blame this book for me not getting my predicted grade ;)

I found it really challenging - as a white 16yo guy in the UK, I found a lot of the history and symbolism tough to grasp. I should go back and read it again - of course you always say that after someone's passed.

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ando
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Re: Toni Morrison (1931-2019)

#14 Post by ando » Fri Aug 09, 2019 4:31 am

thirtyframesasecond wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 2:04 pm
I read Beloved for my English Literature A Level. I always blame this book for me not getting my predicted grade ;)

I found it really challenging - as a white 16yo guy in the UK, I found a lot of the history and symbolism tough to grasp. I should go back and read it again - of course you always say that after someone's passed.
Well, I don't know if it will inspire you to re-read the book but this interview (new to me) that Morrison did not long after Beloved was published certainly sheds light on what she was trying to accomplish with the novel.

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