African Spiritual Traditions in the Novels of Toni Morrison

African Spiritual Traditions in the Novels of Toni Morrison

by K Zauditu-Selassie


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"Makes a valuable contribution to the ever-widening field of Morrison studies by exploring the intricacies of Morrison's African references, giving critics the ability to make more informed readings of the novels."—Canadian Review of American Studies


"A study of African cosmology and epistemology in Morrison’s writings that draws on the academic author's experience in the Kongo and Yoruba traditions."—Chronicle Review


"Addresses a real need: a scholarly and ritually informed reading of spirituality in the work of a major African American author. No other work catalogues so thoroughly the grounding of Morrison’s work in African cosmogonies. Zauditu-Selassie's many readings of Ba Kongo and Yoruba spiritual presence in Morrison's work are incomparably detailed and generally convincing."—Keith Cartwright, University of North Florida


While others have studied the African spiritual ideas and values encoded in Morrison's work, African Spiritual Traditions in the Novels of Toni Morrison is the most comprehensive. In this volume, K. Zauditu-Selassie explores a wide range of complex concepts, including African deities, ancestral ideas, spiritual archetypes, mythic trope, and lyrical prose representing African spiritual continuities. She delves deeply into African spiritual traditions, clearly explaining the meanings of African cosmology and epistemology as manifest in Morrison’s novels.

Zauditu-Selassie is uniquely positioned to write this book, as she is not only a literary critic but also a practicing Obatala priest in the Yoruba spiritual tradition and a Mama Nganga in the Kongo spiritual system. The result is a comprehensive, tour-de-force critical investigation of such works as The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, Tar Baby, Paradise, Love, Beloved, and Jazz.



Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813049526
Publisher: University Press of Florida
Publication date: 02/18/2014
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 264
Sales rank: 860,422
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

K. Zauditu-Selassie is professor of English at Coppin State University, Baltimore.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Preface: Dancing between Two Realms ix

Introduction: There's a Little Wheel a Turnin' in My Heart: Cultural Concentricities and Enduring Identities 1

Part 1 Ancestral Echoes Positing a Spiritual Frame

1 I's Got the Blues: Malochia, Magic, and the Descent into Madness in The Bluest Eye 27

2 Always: The Living Ancestor and the Testimony of Will in Sula 49

Part 2 Psychic Domains and Spiritual Locations

3 I've Got a Home in Dat Rock: Ritual and the Construction of Family History in Song of Solomon 69

4 Dancing with Trees and Dreaming of Yellow Dresses: The Dilemma of Jadine in Tar Baby 97

5 In(her)iting the Divine: (Consola)tions, Sacred (Convent)ions, and Mediations of the Spiritual In-between in Paradise 119

Part 3 Remembrance Has Not Left Us: What the Record Shows

6 Living with the Dead: Memory and Ancestral Presence in Beloved 145

7 Tracing Wild's Child Joe and Tracking the Hunter: An Examination of the Òrìsà Ochossi in Jazz 168

8 If I'd a Knowed More, I Would a Loved More: Toni Morrison's Love and Spiritual Authorship 189

Glossary 201

Notes 211

Works Cited 225

Index 239

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