Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye (Bloom's Modern Critical Interpretations)

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    Bloom's Modern Critical Interpretations

  • Blooms Modern Critical Interpretations

    Toni MorrisonsTHE BLUEST EYE

    Updated Edition

    Edited and with an introduction byHarold Bloom

    Sterling Professor of the HumanitiesYale University

  • Editorial Consultant, Brian L. Johnson

    Blooms Modern Critical Interpretations: Toni Morrisons The Bluest EyeUpdated EditionCopyright 2007 by Infobase Publishing

    Introduction 2007 by Harold Bloom

    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher. For more information contact:

    Blooms Literary CriticismAn imprint of Infobase Publishing132 West 31st StreetNew York NY 10001

    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

    Toni Morrisons The Bluest Eye / edited with an introduction by Harold Bloom. p. cm. (Blooms modern criticial views) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN-13: 978-0-7910-96154 (hardcover : alk. paper) 1. Toni Morrisons The Bluest EyeCriticism and interpretation. I. Bloom, Harold.PS3525.I5156Z5145 2007812.52dc22 2006102701

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  • Editors Note vii

    Introduction 1Harold Bloom

    Alcoholism and Family Abuse in Maggie and The Bluest Eye 3Rosalie Murphy Baum

    Toni Morrison's "Allegory of the Cave": Movies, Consumption, and Platonic Realism in The Bluest Eye 19

    Thomas H. Fick

    Text and Countertext in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye 35

    Donald B. Gibson

    Transgression as Poesis in The Bluest Eye 53Shelley Wong

    Will the Circle be Unbroken?: the Politics of Form in The Bluest Eye 67

    Linda Dittmar

    Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye: An Inverted Walden? 87Sharon L. Gravett

    The Bluest Eye: Notes on History, Community, and Black Female Subjectivity 97

    Jane Kuenz


  • The Fourth Face: The Image of God in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye 111

    Allen Alexander

    The Blues Aesthetic in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye 125

    Cat Moses

    Texts, Primers, and Voices in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye 145

    Carl D. Malmgren

    Focusing on the Wrong Front: Historical Displacement, the Maginot Line, and The Bluest Eye 159

    Jennifer Gillan

    "A Productive and Fructifying Pain": Storytelling as Teaching in The Bluest Eye 179

    Jeffrey M. Buchanan

    Not So Fast Dick and Jane: Reimagining Childhood and Nation in The Bluest Eye 193

    Deborah T. Werrlein

    What The Bluest Eye Knows about Them: Culture, Race, Identity 209

    Christopher Douglas

    Chronology 233

    Contributors 235

    Bibliography 237

    Acknowledgements 239

    Index 241


  • vii

    My introduction praisesThe Bluest Eye, in agreementwithMichaelWood,butbycanonicalstandardsToniMorrisonassertsthatshenolongeraccepts.

    Christopher Douglas shrewdly notes The Bluest Eyes reservationsaboutgroupidentity,suspicionswhichMorrisonabandonsfromBelovedonwards.


    Debra T.Werrlein emphasizesMorrisons critique of our supposedAmerican ideologies of innocent childhood, after which Cat MosesinterpretsthebluesaestheticasdominatingThe Bluest Eye.

    Textuality centersCarlD.Malmgrens text,whileAllenAlexanderdiscoversaspectsofanAfricanGodinMorrisonsnovelisticvision.

    JaneKuenzlocatesMorrisonsdefenseofaspecificAfricanAmericanfemale subjectivity, after which ShelleyWong praises the novelist for aliberatingpedagogy.

    Racism is remorselessly deconstructed byDonaldB.Gibson,whileRosalie Murphy Baum compares Stephen Cranes Maggie: A Girl of the Streets(1893)toThe Bluest Eye,sinceeachshowsthatalcoholismcanleadtofamilyabuse.


    Allusions in The Bluest Eye to Eliots The Waste Land and PlatosAllegory of theCave usefully are expounded byThomasH. Fick,whileLindaDittmaradmits to some interestingambiguities inMorrisonsfirstnovel,butendsbyaffirmingthesupposedideologyofthebook.

    Editors Note

  • 1

    ToniMorrison's T h e Blu e s T e y e

    IThe Bluest Eye, Morrison's first novel, was published when she was

    thirty-nineand isanythingbutnovicework.MichaelWood,anauthenticliterarycritic,madethebestcommentonthis"lucidandeloquent"narrativethatIhaveeverseen:


    Morrison herself, in an Afterword of 1994, looked back across aquarter-century and emphasized her "reliance for full comprehension incodesembeddedinblackculture."Areaderwhoisnotblackorfemalemustdothebesthecan; likeMichaelWood,IhavefoundThe Bluest Eye tobecompletelylucidsinceIfirstreadit,backin1970.LikeSulaandThe Song of Solomonafterit,thebookseemstomesuccessfulinuniversalterms,evenifonesharesneitherMorrison'soriginsnorherideologies.Beloved,Morrison'smost famous romance narrative, seems to me problematic, though ithas reachedavastaudience.Agenerationor twowillhave topassbeforea balanced judgment could be rendered uponBeloved orMorrison's laternovels,Jazz,Paradise,andLove.ButherearlyphasehasmanyofthecanonicalqualificationsofthetraditionalWesternliterarykindthatshefiercelyrejectsasbeingirrelevanttoher.

    H A Ro LD B LooM


  • HaroldBloom

    WhatInever forgetaboutThe Bluest Eye is its terrifyingpenultimateparagraph,where thenarrator censuresherself andher friends for turningawayfromPecolabecausethechild'smadness,engenderedbythetraumaofbeingrapedbyherfather,Cholly,"boredusintheend":


    Theunhappywisdomofthisishappilyfreeofanyculturalnarcissismwhatsoever.Class, race, evengenderdonotover-determine thisbleakness.Morrison'sheroicsurvivorsinBelovedareintendedtostandupbothinandagainst theirhistory.Perhapstheydo,but thetorments theyhaveenduredalsoaretendentiouslyelaborated,becausetheauthorhasanideologicaldesignuponus,herguiltyreaders,whiteandblack,maleandfemale.ThenarratorofThe Bluest Eyepersuadesme,wherethenarrationofBeloveddoesnot.InD.H.Lawrence'sterms,ItrustboththetaleandthetellerinThe Bluest Eye.InBeloved,Idonottrustthetale.

  • Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature, 1986 Summer; 19 (): 91105.

    R o S a l i e M u R p h y B a u M