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The Bluest Eye (Vintage International) (original 1970; edition 2007)
by Toni Morrison (Author)
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (1970)
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No current Talk conversations about this book.
I don't know what to say about this book. It made me think, it made me uncomfortable but most of all, the story and lyrical left me in awe. Pecola's story will not be for everyone nor will it be understood, but it needs to be told. It's a cautionary tale that comments on the impact of racism, toxic masculinity, grief, pain and the Black experience of that time. ( )
A good book to read when books are being banned. The ALA survey has it as #3 in 2022.
The history is layered. The opening and closing are in the present. The digression to illustrate a family tree caught my attention as much as the main thread. Plot spoiler: Pecola gets her blue eyes. Soaphead, who performed the miracle, told her the sign she'd know it had happened.
A masterfully written book that pulls on so many threads. From tensions about growing up and becoming, dealing with substance addiction, childhood trauma, blatant racial discrimination and colorism, Morrison ties them all together into a beautiful and heartbreaking tale.
After The Bluest Eye appeared on a list of books to remove from the library shelves of a local school district , I decided I wanted to find out for myself what the hubbub was all about. Call it the Streisand Effect, but as I tweeted at the time , "if I hear someone wants a book off the shelves of a school library, I'm more likely to check it out myself. There are books that are beyond the scope of children. But I can't very well know if I don't read myself, too."
Last night I finished reading it. It's not the first book I've read by Morrison; I've also read [b: Beloved|6149|Beloved|Toni Morrison|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1632283781l/6149._SY75_.jpg|736076], though it has been some years. I do not recall being overly enamored with it, and in fact, I rated it at one star. I'm not proud of it, especially since I never provided an explanation, but there it is. As I refresh my memory, scrolling through other reviews of the book on Goodreads, I see fives and ones...people really love it, or they really hate it, with one reader calling it 'brilliant' and another just a few reviews lower calling it their "least favorite book," and another saying "I hated it."
It kind of reminds me of that scene in The Pirates of the Caribbean when Johnny Depp's character, Captain Jack Sparrow is accused of being "quite possibly the worst pirate I have ever heard of."
"Ah," says Sparrow. "But you have heard of me."
And did I just compare Toni Morrison to a movie derived from a Disney amusement park ride? Oy...
My point is, it's not hard to see why readers are myopic about her books. Toni Morrison writes with deceptive beauty that yanks at the emotions of anyone with a heart. The imagery of her language is a bright rainbow, a feast for the reader that will allure and entice. It's absolutely beautiful. Like a beautiful meal, the reader can't help but desire to feel and take in the emotions of the story.
And what stories.
Perhaps this is also why it evokes such negative reactions. The stories are mired in scenes I often cringed to read, depicting abuse, prostitution, rape, and incest, voyeurism, and bestiality. Violence is regular, and references and descriptions of sex are frequent. That they are integrated into such heartbreaking stories, full of pathos and raw emotion only makes me feel conflicted and torn about the value of the novel.
Reading The Bluest Eye (and Beloved), it's hard not to believe--and I do believe--that the stories reflect a dark and sordid past of a people in their time oppressed and abused by the laws and majorities of this country, and in turn, they abused and hurt each other. One abuse begets another, and the cycle of pain continues and is passed on. That Morrison dreamed up these stories and crammed them all together into her novels...well. It's a dark imagination, or maybe it's a cautionary note about the past that some might want to forget.
To be clear, because perhaps I'm waxing a little contemplative, or maybe I'm overthinking it, or maybe I'm way outside of my bailiwick (after all, I did read a solid four epic fantasy's in the last quarter of 2020 where the worst thing any of the protagonists had to face was a BBEG trying to take over the world, so nothing quite so nuanced or emotional as interpersonal relationships of a historically oppressed people), I do not think this belongs in the junior high library, and maybe not even the high school library. And yes, I recognize I'm a socially conservative personality, and I may be more cautious about what my kids read than many.
But don't read this as a suggestion that it shouldn't be read. Maybe there is a place for it in a curriculum when guided by the attentive and careful teacher, a student, especially an older student, might gain some appreciation for its value. Without that guide, I suspect the story is alternately horrifying, confusing, grotesque, and disturbing. And donâ€™t tell me that it â€śshows the real world,â€ť because this is not the real world as it is for most people today, nor do I think that childrenâ€”whether young, pre-teen, or adolescentsâ€”necessarily are edified or educated by steeping them in scenes that are so dark and depressing.
If I had a philosophy of what I think children should read, I think it is not dissimilar to C.S. Lewis's comment here: â€śFairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.â€ť Young readers should be brought along and prepared to face those dragons, prepared to defeat them, then later be brought along to see just how terrible those dragons really are. Whether racism, familial and sexual abuse, misogynism, or even just degrading nature of poverty, there are dragons in this world, and children will one day become adults who face these monsters, or at least they should become such. But the age at which they grapple with these through the writing of Toni Morrison is not lightly and casually approached. They shouldn't be beaten down with those dragons before they have the strength to face them, and then, when they have that strength, they will understand what and why those dragons must and should be slain.
I have said "poetry." But "The Bluest Eye" is also history, sociology, folklore, nightmare and music. It is one thing to state that we have institutionalized waste, that children suffocate under mountains of merchandised lies. It is another thing to demonstrate that waste, to re-create those children, to live and die by it. Miss Morrison's angry sadness overwhelms.
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Wikipedia in English (1)
Fiction. African American Fiction. Literature. HTML:The Bluest Eye, published in 1970, is the first novel written by Toni Morrison, winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature.
It is the story of eleven-year-old Pecola Breedloveâ??a black girl in an America whose love for its blond, blue-eyed children can devastate all othersâ??who prays for her eyes to turn blue: so that she will be beautiful, so that people will look at her, so that her world will be different. This is the story of the nightmare at the heart of her yearning and the tragedy of its fulfil
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.54Literature English (North America) American fiction 20th Century 1945-1999
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