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Jazz (1992)

by Toni Morrison

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4,573612,087 (3.64)277
In the winter of 1926, when everybody everywhere sees nothing but good things ahead, Joe Trace, middle-aged door-to-door salesman of Cleopatra beauty products, shoots his teenage lover to death. At the funeral, Joe's wife, Violet, attacks the girl's corpse. This passionate, profound story of love and obsession brings us back and forth in time, as a narrative is assembled from the emotions, hopes, fears, and deep realities of black urban life.… (more)
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» See also 277 mentions

English (58)  German (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (60)
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
Joe and Violet are in the business of beauty. Joe sells cosmetics door to door and his wife is a home-visiting hairdresser. Usually a straight up and dependable man, Joe falls in obsessive love with a teenager named Dorcas. His passion for Dorcas forces him to kill her. At her funeral, in a fit of jealous insanity Joe's wife, Violet, attempts to slash the dead girl's face while she lay in her coffin. Violent Violet then goes home to free all of her pet birds. Her rage makes her human. The smartest character in the book is the City. I like the way the City makes people think they can do whatever they want and get away with it. The culture is full of passions, both right and wrong. Jazz will also take you back to July 1917, a time when Grandmother True Belle (great name) was afraid of Springfield, Massachusetts. Morrison's vivid descriptions of culture are breathtaking. ( )
  SeriousGrace | May 23, 2022 |
"Don't ever think that I fell for you, or fell over you. I didn't fall in love, I rose in it."

'Jazz' opens in 1926 Harlem and Morrison looks at broken families and lives using a tragic love triangle. Middle-aged Joe Trace meets eighteen-year-old Dorcas whilst selling cosmetics at her aunt’s home and begins an affair with her. Months later when Dorcas begins to tire of him, Joe shoots her dead. Violet. Joe's wife, attends the funeral and slashes the dead girl’s face with a knife. But then weeks later Violet starts visiting Dorcas’s aunt and these visits become a regular occurrence. Meanwhile, Joe who isn't arrested for the murder is lost in grief for his dead lover.

The plot flips from various perspectives and tenses, connecting the love triangle's participants' past and present. In doing so Morrison creates a web of fractured identities as we are shown the same tragic events from differing standpoints and the motivations behind them.

I loved the writing and felt that the storytelling read like a long and beautiful poem. But, you have to really focus on it otherwise its easy to lose the thread. 'Jazz' is undoubtedly a piece of literary art but personally I didn't feel that it was as powerful as the previous novel by the author that I read, 'Beloved', and consequently I felt compelled to mark it down. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Mar 1, 2022 |
Not as hard-hitting as Song of Solomon or Beloved - those books explore similar themes much more effectively - but there were still passages on love and the longing for it that made me catch my breath. ( )
  doryfish | Jan 29, 2022 |
I liked Beloved, Paradise, and The Bluest Eye, so I’m acquainted with her lyricism, which I love. However, in this book it seems lyricism is used as a tool to mimic the improvisation of Jazz (each character has its own “musical” voice as part of the ensemble), and they ebb and flow and lean back and pitch forward....all of which leaves me as confused and disconcerted as when I listen to jazz (I'm not a fan). The sudden changes in voice and narrative did not for me...maybe someone with a more refined musical “ear” can appreciate the swift shifts, but I’m found them off putting.

But I still felt compelled to finish....the dialogue (brilliant in its conciseness), the pathos, the characters themselves, the evocation of “slavery, city, and spirituality,” and the potential of how it would end...so I did and I'm glad. She is a gifted writer and although this one was too “displaced” for me, I’m looking forward to reading Song of Solomon. ( )
  Eosch1 | Jan 2, 2022 |
Alguien nos cuenta una historia a modo de narrador omnisciente. Finalmente descubrimos que esta narradora fue asesinada por su amante, cuya esposa además, intenta destrozarle la cara durante su funeral. Así comienza esta novela, en la que Morrison vuelve a envolvernos en su mundo hasta hacernos comprender la vida de hombres y mujeres negras en una gran ciudad norteamericana, nunca nombrada pero sí descrita, la Nueva York de principios del siglo XX.
Una historia terrible que deben solventar los protagonistas porque a ninguna autoridad le interesa lo que pueda ocurrirle a los negros. Parece que esto sigue siendo así.
Conocemos los hechos en las primeras páginas y pasamos el resto de la novela intentando conocer a un coro de personajes entre los que destacan los tres protagonistas principales, la joven Dorcas, su amante Joe Trace y su esposa Violet, con los que explora temas como la locura ("los locos tienen sus razones"), la desesperanza, el destino o los celos, junto con la historia de las migraciones del campo a la ciudad o del propio jazz, que ambienta toda la novela.
Como siempre, el lirismo y la presencia de esa mitología que Morrison usa para rescatar la memoria histórica de su gente, recorren un texto que no te deja escapar.
( )
  Orellana_Souto | Jul 27, 2021 |
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» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Toni Morrisonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cavagnoli, FrancaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vink, NettieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
I am the name of the sound
and the sound of the name.
I am the sign of the letter
and the designation of the division.
"Thunder, Perfect Mind," The Nag Hammadi
Dedication
For RW and George
First words
Sth, I know that woman.
Quotations
What good are secrets if you can't talk to anybody about them?
It's nice when grown people whisper to each other under the covers. Their ecstasy is more leaf-sigh than bray and the body is the vehicle, not the point. They reach, grown people, for something beyond and way, way down underneath tissue.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

In the winter of 1926, when everybody everywhere sees nothing but good things ahead, Joe Trace, middle-aged door-to-door salesman of Cleopatra beauty products, shoots his teenage lover to death. At the funeral, Joe's wife, Violet, attacks the girl's corpse. This passionate, profound story of love and obsession brings us back and forth in time, as a narrative is assembled from the emotions, hopes, fears, and deep realities of black urban life.

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