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The origin of others by Toni Morrison

The origin of others (original 2017; edition 2017)

by Toni Morrison

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1666113,306 (3.86)10
America's foremost novelist reflects on the themes that preoccupy her work and increasingly dominate national and world politics: race, fear, borders, the mass movement of peoples, the desire for belonging. What is race and why does it matter? What motivates the human tendency to construct Others? Why does the presence of Others make us so afraid? Drawing on her Norton Lectures, Toni Morrison takes up these and other vital questions bearing on identity in The Origin of Others. In her search for answers, the novelist considers her own memories as well as history, politics, and especially literature. Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor, and Camara Laye are among the authors she examines. Readers of Morrison's fiction will welcome her discussions of some of her most celebrated books--Beloved, Paradise, and A Mercy. If we learn racism by example, then literature plays an important part in the history of race in America, both negatively and positively. Morrison writes about nineteenth-century literary efforts to romance slavery, contrasting them with the scientific racism of Samuel Cartwright and the banal diaries of the plantation overseer and slaveholder Thomas Thistlewood. She looks at configurations of blackness, notions of racial purity, and the ways in which literature employs skin color to reveal character or drive narrative. Expanding the scope of her concern, she also addresses globalization and the mass movement of peoples in this century. National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates provides a foreword to Morrison's most personal work of nonfiction to date.… (more)
Title:The origin of others
Authors:Toni Morrison
Info:Cambridge, Massachusetts : Harvard University Press, 2017.
Collections:Read in 2020

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The origin of others by Toni Morrison (2017)



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Short, interesting reflections on why humans feel compelled to categorize between "us" and "other", how Morrison explores it in her novels, and how it can lead to the dehumanization of people of color. (Took me so long to finish it because I let someone else check it out of the library!) ( )
  Zaiga | Sep 23, 2019 |
This book has frightening implications for how we can so easily buy into what we are programmed to believe, from her comments about her great-grandmother calling her "tampered with," to the white man who simply assume that he could be advisor to an African king, because he was white. ( )
  FourFreedoms | May 17, 2019 |
This book has frightening implications for how we can so easily buy into what we are programmed to believe, from her comments about her great-grandmother calling her "tampered with," to the white man who simply assume that he could be advisor to an African king, because he was white. ( )
  ShiraDest | Mar 6, 2019 |
My Takeaway

“How does one become a racist, a sexist? Since no one is born a racist and there is no fetal predisposition to sexism, one learns Othering not by lecture or instruction but by example.”
Toni Morrison, The Origin of Others

What is race and why does it matter? What triggers in humans the tendency to construct Others? In The Origin of Others, Morrison uses history and literature to illustrate how race is perceived, internalized and conveyed (culturally). Additionally, the book's introduction by Ta-Nehisi Coates is beyond exceptional! Coates points out why this book is so important -- especially right now. In today's challenging (political) world, this is a must read that only a writer as eloquent and powerful as Morrison is able to deliver. ( )
  debbiesbooknook | Jul 31, 2018 |
This not a novel.
It is not even, strictly speaking, a non-fiction book. It is an attempt to tie together six descrete lectures given by Morrison at Harvard in 2016. The Norton Lectures have hosted both some famous and some obscure members of the class of “belle letters.”

Morrison was invited to speak, according to Ta-Nehisi Coates, on the “literature of belonging.” I have been made aware these last few years, that I cannot help but view the world from a position of white privilege. Morrison points out that every person views the world from their unique position—of privilege, yes, but privilege takes on its own hue depending on the lenses through which we view it. This is a slim volume, indeed, but what a good thing since I suspect I will get something different from it each time I read it. ( )
  kaulsu | Feb 26, 2018 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Toni Morrisonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Coates, Ta-NehisiForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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