August 6, 2019

"Toni Morrison, Nobel laureate who transfigured American literature, dies at 88."

WaPo reports.
“The Bluest Eye” (1970), Ms. Morrison’s debut novel, was published as she approached her 40th birthday, and it became an enduring classic. It centered on Pecola Breedlove, a poor black girl of 11 who is disconsolate at what she perceives as her ugliness. Ms. Morrison said that she wrote the book because she had encountered no other one like it — a story that delved into the life of a child so infected by racism that she had come to loathe herself.

“She had seen this little girl all of her life,” reads a description of Pecola. “Hair uncombed, dresses falling apart, shoes untied and caked with dirt. They had stared at her with great uncomprehending eyes. Eyes that questioned nothing and asked everything. Unblinking and unabashed, they stared up at her. The end of the world lay in their eyes, and the beginning, and all the waste in between.”

203 comments:

1 – 200 of 203   Newer›   Newest»
mccullough said...

Morrison was too derivative.

Michael K said...

Identity politics began here when the author was more important that what was written.

Nichevo said...

August 6, 2019
"Toni Morrison, Nobel laureate who transfigured American literature, dies at 88."
WaPo reports.
“The Bluest Eye” (1970), Ms. Morrison’s debut novel,

Was this the one with all the scatology or was it Their Eyes Were Watching God? One of this talent pool seemed to enjoy writing about farting and shitting. Sure makes you want to turn pages, not.

“Hair uncombed, dresses falling apart, shoes untied and caked with dirt." Poverty explains the ragged clothing, but is there any reason why she could not comb or wash or clean herself and her shoes? I suppose the point is she had no mommy or daddy to wipe her nose or the other end for her, but sooner or later most people learn self-care. When does one learn to tie one's shoes?

Rick said...

It seems people understood it as a goal rather than a warning.

mccullough said...

Like Steinbeck, Morrison beat the drum too much.

Fernandinande said...

a poor black girl of 11 who is disconsolate at what she perceives as her ugliness.

Aww, man, I'd been meaning to read that book. Too late now!

Jamie said...

I haven't read any Toni Morrison. My quibble with the quoted passage is that there's no referent for "they." It reads, here, like a weird metaphor about her shoes. I haven't done the work of looking for the more complete quote to see whether the original did have a reference that makes sense.


Sebastian said...

"The end of the world lay in their eyes, and the beginning, and all the waste in between."

OMFG.

Althouse! This calls for a fisking! You can do it. (And progs already hate you, so what have you got to lose?)

Oso Negro said...

It seems that Toni Morrison had a fine life, and was interested in telling stories that she imagined might have happened to people less fortunate than she. And she didn't kiss the feminist flag!

William said...

I've read a few books by Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor. Good writers but Southern Gothic is not my thing. A lot of the books seemed to hang the Gothic moss around characters from the planter class. Not my people and not my problems. I couldn't get into them. Morrison, from what I understand, went Gothic on the black people down there. I had the same problem relating, but you're apparently a better person if you can sympathize more with them than with the planter class.....I've read a couple of stories. I'm sure she's a good writer, but perhaps she's more on level with Pearl Buck than O'Connor.

tim maguire said...

Nichevo said...“Hair uncombed, dresses falling apart, shoes untied and caked with dirt." Poverty explains the ragged clothing, but is there any reason why she could not comb or wash or clean herself and her shoes?

Isn't the excerpt pretty clear that the answer is racism? ("a child so infected by racism that she had come to loathe herself")

Learned hopelessness. She was taught that she didn't matter so she didn't care about herself.

I read Song of Solomon in college and thought it was a great book. Among other things, it introduced me to the idea of magical realism. But while I really enjoyed it, for some reason I never sought out other Morrison books. I can't say why.

John Borell said...

The headline I saw said "Beloved Author Toni Morrison died at 88."

My first thought was 'I'm not sure she's beloved." But of course, she wrote Beloved.

Which I had to read in law school in a Law and Literature class. I didn't love the book, I found it a slog.

rcocean said...

Transfigured? That's a mighty big word for Toni Morrison.

I thought she was pretty mediocre and only got the Nobel Lit Prize for identity reasons - but that's nothing new. Mediocre Sinclair Lewis only won because he was an American. Boring Saul Bellow got it because he was Jewish and Canadian. So, why not give it to someone because they're a mediocre black woman?

If they wanted to give it to a black American - James Baldwin was the guy.

rcocean said...

I'm reading a Bio of John O'Hara and he really thought he would win the Nobel Prize in 1962. He was shocked when they gave it to Steinbeck. Which just showed that O'Hara had ZERO idea about what the Nobel Prize Committee was looking for in Authors. I can't think of any author that they were less likely to give it to then O'Hara. The NP was usually given based on identity, politics, and world-wide (as opposed to USA) fame. Quality of writing was way down on the list.

rcocean said...

Faulkner got it because he wrote about "The race problem". Hemingway was a commie who was famous world wide. Pearl Buck was a women who wrote about the Chinese. Lewis in the 20s the first American Author to win - it was "our turn" and Lewis was thought to be Left-wing back then. Steinbeck was considered a leftist and wrote about Commies and Okies.

Balfegor said...

I had to read Beloved in class -- multiple times, I think (I also had to read Native Son and Their Eyes Were Watching God -- I attended a state high school in Southern California after all). I found all of them plodding and tedious. I could appreciate the technical elements in Beloved, I suppose, but as a work of literature I found it completely inert. As a child, novels used to make me cry all the time (I was a weepy little boy), so I'm a pretty easy target, as a reader. Clearly, I wasn't the target for any of these works. They weren't written for someone like me. They are what they are, written for a particular audience, in a particular time.

It's sort of the inverse of the "representation" argument one sometimes hears -- that Chaucer and Shakespeare and Dickens and all the great works of English Literature, by virtue of having been written mostly by White men (with the occasional White woman) simply don't speak to the experiences of the modern young non-White schoolchild. Maybe they don't. But they spoke to me, and occasionally moved me, even though I'm not a Victorian urchin, or a religious pilgrim, or whatever. Morrison's oeuvre never did.

And that's fine! De gustibus non est disputandum. Morrison wrote very well, and very successfully, for her audience.

MadisonMan said...

"transfigured American Literature"

Gag. What horrible writing.

Sebastian said...

"the life of a child so infected by racism that she had come to loathe herself"

Ah, fiction. SCOTUS cited bogus Kenneth Clark research to the same effect as a way to justify Brown, but I don't think any actual research shows that "racism" causes disproportionate self-loathing in blacks.

Seeing Red said...

The Good Earth.

Had to read it in school and never touched another of her books.

Fernandinande said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fernandinande said...

"De gustibus non est disputandum."

That's Greek for "Don't eat while fighting." They invented the food fight, ya know.

rcocean said...

I can't imagine many black BOYS who want to read Morrison.

Wince said...

It introduced millions of readers to Sethe, a slave mother haunted by the memory of the child she had murdered, having judged life in slavery worse than no life at all.

Back when such infanticide was unspeakable, that story presented a profound moral choice amidst the oppression of slavery.

Today, the "progressive" belief is that oppression constitutes anything less than full federal funding of such infanticide.

rcocean said...

Giving the Nobel Prize to Dylan was basically saying "we're done with serious lit and pretending our awards are based on Literary merit". They had stopped caring about Literary Merit 40 years ago. This was just finally being honest.

tim in vermont said...

It’s kind of funny that The Lion King is so popular when it is such deplorable fiction. And here Tony Morrison was writing good fiction and we had to spoon feed it to people and force them to read it or not graduate. Like you have to be exposed to CNN if you want to get through an airport.

rcocean said...

Our HS Lit teacher gave us "Grapes of Wrath" "Watership Down" and "The Crucible" and "The Lottery".

The idea was to push lefty ideas or dumbed down stuff (Like Rabbits). That was the 70s, early 80s. Soon after that they went for diversity and lefty ideas.

tim in vermont said...

If Morrison hadn’t come along, the bien pensant class would have had to invent her.

tim in vermont said...

Transfigure: Transform into something more beautiful or elevated.

Yeah, that happened. Nothing as elevated as Beloved had ever been written before Morrison came along. The Hallmark Channel has also transfigured moviemaking, I guess.

rcocean said...

Its odd that the writer used "Transfigured" which has a religious connotation instead of "Transformed" which would have been more appropriate.

Laslo Spatula said...

I assumed that 'transfigured' meant that she changed the gender of writing.

I am Laslo.

tim in vermont said...

Once you have read Beloved, you can never read The Great Gatsby again, it’s like what Blazing Saddles did to the old show “Western Jamboree” you see how laughable it really was. Same with Huckleberry Finn, Invisible Man, and Moby Dick?. Fuggedabowdit!

Seeing Red said...

we Had to decode “Stairway to Heaven.”

mccullough said...

Invisible Man is better than anything Morrison wrote. Song of Solomon is her best novel and it’s a pretty weak response to Invisible Man.

Ellison understood whites and blacks better than Morrison. It’s good for black girls to have a writer to read.

The nice thing about the movement to get rid of teaching Dead White Man Literature is that the reasoning applies to Dead Black Woman Literature. Of your female and black, then read it. If not, skip it. It won’t sing to you.

cubanbob said...

Tough crowd here. Maybe Althouse should make a list of who is the worst novelist who has been awarded the Nobel Prize and conduct a poll. Ought to make for a great thread.

mccullough said...

No need to read Beloved. Oprah made it into a movie.

tim in vermont said...

Samuel Clemens lived, prayed, sang, and played with enslaved black children when he was a child, and wrote one of the most powerful indictments of the shame of slavery in American literature, AND created modern America literary style all in one go, and his book is pushed off the library shelves. He really did “transfigure” American letters.

wildswan said...

I don't think she'll be famous a hundred years from now.

Kevin said...

a story that delved into the life of a child so infected by racism that she had come to loathe herself.

Today that little girl would be white.

tim in vermont said...

“Maybe Althouse should make a list of who is the worst novelist who has been awarded the Nobel Prize and conduct a poll.”

The Faulkner character in Barton Fink is really something, and probably true to life to an extent, and yet when he sings “Old Black Joe” it’s a really emotionally effective scene.

readering said...

I have never read Morrison. Also have never read Austen. My bad. So much to read. (Have never read Tolstoy, Proust, Mann, Cervantes.) Hope there are some comments that give insight into this author. In 2006 NYT polled over 100 writers and critics on best novel of prior 25 years and Beloved came first.

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Michael K said...

In 2006 NYT polled over 100 writers and critics on best novel of prior 25 years and Beloved came first.<

I wonder how many of those middle aged lonely women actually read it ?

n.n said...

A masculine pseudonym?

Roughcoat said...

AAT @10:27 AM:

True dat about Clemens. He also midwifed Grant's memoirs, one of greatest of autobiographies ever written.

buwaya said...

The greatest work of American literature of the 20th century was Samuel Eliot Morison's "United States Naval Operations in World War II".

This is an Iliad of impersonal (though often specifically personal) mechanized war, on a vast scale. A great and humbling lesson in the nature of perspective.

The "Two Ocean War" one-volume version simply does not get the immersiveness of it all.

But as far as I know no school anywhere requires this, not the whole thing anyway.

rcocean said...

"In 2006 NYT polled over 100 writers and critics on best novel of prior 25 years and Beloved came first."

Which says a lot about the NYT or the current state of literature. After all, who reads current literature any more? Its 90% female and fiction sales are at an all-time low.

Michael K said...

Its odd that the writer used "Transfigured" which has a religious connotation instead of "Transformed" which would have been more appropriate.

When I was going through "Hell Week" in a fraternity, one torture the actives put us through was standing at night listening to Schoenbergs' "Transfigured Night" played at 33 rpm. Transfigured to me means torture and I assume that the author probably had a similar experience with Morrison's books.

rcocean said...

"United States Naval Operations in World War II".

Its a great work but "Admiral" Morrison is not an old Sea-dog as shown on the back-cover. He was liberal Democrat Harvard Prof and a personal friend of FDR. That's how he got the job. If you read closely you'll see he goes easy on FDR and is overcritical of Churchill/MacArthur in particular and the US Army/AAF in general.

rcocean said...

"Transfigured to me means torture and I assume that the author probably had a similar experience with Morrison's books."

Ha.

Roughcoat said...

Boring overrated "great" writers: Bellow (the worst), Faulkner, Steinbeck.

Love Hemingway, a true genius, even though he was a commie (and a world-class asshole).

Like Buck, admittedly a 2nd tier literary talent, but a good clean storyteller.

O'Connor is extraordinary, and gets better (for me) with each reading.

O'Hara rocks.

Never read Morrison. Not interested.




tim in vermont said...

" In 2006 NYT polled over 100 writers and critics on best novel of prior 25 years and Beloved came first.”

Now ask them anonymously.

Michael K said...

The greatest work of American literature of the 20th century was Samuel Eliot Morison's "United States Naval Operations in World War II".

All 50 volumes. His books on Columbus, researched by his own cruising on the yacht "Mary Otis" are also superb, if PC these days.

tim in vermont said...

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/9.Best_Books_of_the_Decade_1980_s

The Handmaid’s Tail is first, 44 places in front of Bonfire of the Vanities. It’s almost like books are picked for political reasons..... Naaah!

MayBee said...

I read Beloved.
I had no idea she was 88.

Roughcoat said...

Bruce Catton's series on the Civil War surpasses Morison's series, which is saying something. The Civil War was America's true Iliad.

Cormac McCarthy is the greatest living writer, maybe one of the best of all time (disclosure: I corresponded with him).

"The Sand Pebble" is one of the best works of fiction of the second half of the 20th century. Also interesting in this regard is the biography of the author, "The Sailor's Homer: The Life and Times of Richard McKenna."

Marc said...

I see others have noticed the use of the verb 'transfigure' on this feast of Our Lord's Transfiguration. How did Toni Morrison, requiescat in pace, 'transfigure American literature'? 'To alter the figure or appearance of; to change in outward appearance; to transform'. I don't see it myself but am not a great reader of contemporary American novels.

gspencer said...

Didn't she make (cough, exploit) her fortune off of white guilt of liberals?

rhhardin said...

I assumed she was an affirmative action author whose works you'd only read if it was assigned.

What's-her-name Thylias Moss is great
The Warmth of Hot Chocolate

She's even an Oberlin graduate.

Roughcoat said...

"Transfigure" is the wrong word. Bad writing by the author.

tim in vermont said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob said...

> “She had seen this little girl.....

I don't know if it's the Wapo editors or Morison, but good grief, what a clunky grammatical jumble that paragraph is -- a long string of unclear referents.

tim in vermont said...

Remember that time Joey on Friends fixed up his resume with a thesaurus? Just sayin’ WaPo.

Marc said...

Dr K., Surely you meant that you were 'tortured' by the playing of Verklärte Nacht at some speed other than 33 rpm-- wasn't, isn't 33 rpm the standard LP speed?

readering said...

In that Times poll Blood Meridian came third.

dustbunny said...

I read Song of Solomon over 30 yrs ago and enjoyed it, recomended it to friends etc. but every other Morrison novel I started I abandoned out of boredom.

Bay Area Guy said...

I often confused Ms. Toni Morrison with Alice Walker, who wrote The Color Purple (a great book, by the way.)

Haven't read any TM, so I just say, RIP and Godspeed.

Fernandinande said...

It reads, here, like a weird metaphor about her shoes.

They could make it into a movie about radioactive mutants, something that's never been done before, and call it "The Shoes Have Eyes!"

...the more complete quote to see whether the original did have a reference that makes sense.

In the full text shoes still stare with great uncomprehending eyes.

Nichevo said...


buwaya said...
The greatest work of American literature of the 20th century was Samuel Eliot Morison's "United States Naval Operations in World War II".


No love for William L. Shirer' s Rise and Fall of the Third Reich? Want to read Morison but not trivial to find or buy.

Rh, it's grating enough to read what you so interminably quote and what you think you know. Could you be a dear and spare us your assumptions? Especially when they are wrong and only serve to give you something annoying to say.

Marcus said...

I posted on the Fox News FB page announcing her death that I didn't care for her work but that every person's death diminishes me and R.I.P. and I was denounced as a racist.

THEOLDMAN

Funny how that works.

wholelottasplainin' said...

Want to read Morison but not trivial to find or buy.
***********

Utterly trivial.

You'll find hundreds of copies here:

https://tinyurl.com/yxhgoskg

The site is abebooks.com

Nichevo said...

How odd, Marcus. I thought black lives mattered.

gspencer said...

White guilt gave this person notoriety after Oprah, who herself owes her fame to white guilt, gave Morrison said notoriety.

Drivel posing as good writing.

rcocean said...

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

tim in vermont said...

Blood Meridian is another one that beats the drum a little too hard. “This is what Huck Finn did after he ‘lit out for the territories.’" The Old West was a terrible place and horrible shit happened there so you guys stop romanticizing it!. It is well written though.

tim in vermont said...

It’s almost like writing indictments of the history of white America while skipping its accomplishments is a shortcut to literary greatness.

Gospace said...

Never heard of her. Never read, or heard of, "The Bluest Eye”.

In 1970 Heinlein's I Will Fear No Evil was published. I read that.

In 1971 I read Pournelle's A Spaceship for the King serialized in Analog- Science Fiction/Science Fact; a few years later it was published as a novel King David's Spaceship. I have a copy.

Ringworld by Larry Niven was published in 1970. Read that. I'm willing to bet that among the commenters here we could get a lively conversation going on the intricacies of Ringworld. As I type this, there are 65 comments- and I'm willing to bet several commenters have read Ringworld without it being assigned reading, while not one has read the influential "The Bluest Eye” unless some literary professor or HS English teacher required it.

If you want inspiring works that have actually influenced people's lives and their career paths, you want to dive into science fiction.

Lovernios said...

"The greatest work of American literature of the 20th century was Samuel Eliot Morison's "United States Naval Operations in World War II"." - buwaya

From Samuel Eliot Morison's statue on Commonwealth Ave: "Dream dreams and write them, aye. But live them first."

How many authors live the dreams they write?

Michael K said...

isn't 33 rpm the standard LP speed?

I have forgotten the details but the devilish actives found a way to slow it down so it was worse. Maybe it was a 78 version. Plus, we were sleep deprived. They were quite inventive but it never got to the dangerous phase that some other fraternities did.

mccullough said...

Blood Meridian shreds Huck Finn and Moby Dick and the Bible (and all religions).. If it had been a bit more violent, it would have been even better.

tim in vermont said...

Although the novel initially generated only lukewarm critical and commercial reception, it has since become highly acclaimed and is widely recognized as McCarthy's masterpiece, as well as one of the greatest American novels of all time.[3]

In other words “We really really agree with the politics of this novel!"

Michael K said...

How many authors live the dreams they write?

Morrison did. His Columbus voyages are a great story.

Yancey Ward said...

I have read Song of Solomon and Beloved. The first book I read in college for a class, the second I read after seeing the movie- I only watched the movie because it was directed by Jonathan Demme.

I hated Beloved- both the book and movie- both are just tedious- in fact, I am not even sure I finished reading the book it was so bad. On the other hand, I liked Song of Solomon, but not really enough to convince me to read more Morrison.

rcocean said...

"Blood Meridian is another one that beats the drum a little too hard."

Its supposedly based on "Samuel Chamberlain's My Confession: The Recollections of a Rogue." I'd recommend it - if you're interested in the Old West. Its not clear how exaggerated - or true - Chamberlin's story is, but even with all the possible fictions, "Blood Meridian" exaggerates the "True Story" by X 100.

I

tim in vermont said...

I think that the reference to Twain, who came and went with Hailey’s Comet, in the vicious anti-hero who came and went with a meteor shower was the kind of over the top shit that turns it into one more purblind polemic against the idea of America.

Yancey Ward said...

In the same sort of genre, you should read James Baldwin- a much, much better novelist, and one of the more important essayists of any type.

tim in vermont said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael K said...

No love for William L. Shirer' s Rise and Fall of the Third Reich?

"Collapse of the Third Republic" might be better although "Rise and Fall" is unique as he was there.

Roughcoat said...

Cormac McCarthy is an acquired taste. I acquired that taste early in his publishing career, before he became famous, and contacted him about it. He graciously responded. He was then in the midst of writing the border trilogy and he told me about it. Any criticism one wishes to level at McCarthy is fair and I'll not gainsay any critic for it. But I stand by my assessment: greatest living writer, one of the greatest of all time.

J. Farmer said...

The Bluest Eye was required reading in my high school, along with Ellison's Invisible Man and Walker's The Color Purple. I remember Blues Eye being my least favorite of the three, although I do remember enjoying Song of Solomon. I have no knowledge of her fiction work beyond that. Her politics, as best I can tell, is pretty banal and the standard fare for most of what consists of the black intellectual class.

Molly said...

(eaglebeak)

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) was the author of Their Eyes Were Watching God--very different from (better than) Toni Morrison, in my view.

However, as a Republican (or, some say, a Libertarian), Hurston was never going to be as popular as Morrison.

She was hostile to FDR and the New Deal, and totally out of sync with most of her contemporaries in the Harlem Renaissance, etc. Maybe that's why she's still under attack, 60 years after her death.

Nichevo said...

Thanks splainin, I've been to AMZN and I think looked in on abebooks too. Lots of single copies for $5-$8, but sets are disproportionate, and I want to make sure I get all the books: some say there are 15 volumes, some 16. Like I say, annoying. But since the low end are free shipping, i suppose I can order one at a time.


BTW is this the content of the hyperwar site?

Roughcoat said...

"Blood Meridian" exaggerates the "True Story" by X 100.

Well sure. The fact that one of the principle characters is a supernatural demonic immortal personification of evil known as "The Judge" is a clue of sorts that it is exaggerated. So what?

The character of John Joel Glanton was inspired in part by a ruthless scalp hunter of that period, I forget his name, and unfortunately I forget the name of the excellent book that was written about him. The book is packed away in a box somewhere. The protagonist's photo graces the cover, he's Scotch Irish like Glanton, and looks much as one imagines (with McCarthy's prompting) Glanton would have looked like.

Professional lady said...

I agree that Grant's autobiography is a great autobiography. He was a very intelligent and direct man who told it like it was. I don't think there was any dissembling in that book. When discussing his subordinates, he called them as he saw them. When he criticized someone's performance he was never vindictive. Blunt yes; nasty no.

Roughcoat said...

Grant is my hero.

tim in vermont said...

It’s funny how people who are obsessed with the undoubted crimes of the United States in the 19th century have so little curiosity regarding the crimes of communism. It’s almost like the real crime that puts the US in the dock is the opposition to slave seeking ideologies like Soviet and Chinese communism and European fascism.

Shane said...

Isn't "transfigured" gender misappropriation?

Bilwick said...

"Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) was the author of Their Eyes Were Watching God--very different from (better than) Toni Morrison, in my view.

"However, as a Republican (or, some say, a Libertarian), Hurston was never going to be as popular as Morrison.

"She was hostile to FDR and the New Deal, and totally out of sync with most of her contemporaries in the Harlem Renaissance, etc. Maybe that's why she's still under attack, 60 years after her death."

The Hive will not tolerate dissent, and African-Americans who bolt the Plantation and advocate genuine freedom are among the worst offenders.

tim in vermont said...

I am not so sure that Blood Meridien was all that exaggerated. Archeologists looked at the skeletal remains of victims of the French and Indian War and found that if anything, the lurid accounts were sanitized. I don’t have any illusions about the cruelty and depravity of which humanity is capable. But it’s like making a sandwich, if you use too much mustard, it’s a mustard sandwich, no matter what else is in it. I think Philip Roth might have said that in Portnoy’s Complaint about sex in a novel, IDK.

rcocean said...

"I am not so sure that Blood Meridien was all that exaggerated. "

I am. And so is anyone who read the real book it was based on. but you can believe different.

rcocean said...

"So what?"

The book is not only exaggerated, the subtext is "hate Whitey". Fine, as long you know its exaggerated fiction written by a Leftist. Some people want to believe its an accurate representation of the Old west.

And its not. That's all. You can believe different.

Lovernios said...

Read No Country for Old Men. It was OK, but I thought that Moss should have killed Chigurth when he had the drop on him. I certainly would have. But that would have made the story end way too soon.

rcocean said...

For example. The real gang weren't white men with a few indians and blacks. The real gang was almost all Mexican-half breeds-blacks with a few white guys. The fake gang is is death dealing machine. The real gang had trouble killing any Indians, which is why with the help of some neighboring Mexicans they attacked a band of peaceful Indians. The fake gang goes to the Mexican city to get their bounties and everyone is afraid of them - like Clint Eastwood in a spaghetti western - in real life the gang were treated as bounty scum and kicked out of town.

The fake gang - takes over the river crossing and robs travelers at gun point and even rapes their women. The oppress Indians and rape and rob them. In real life, no of this happened, and when they tried to steal some Indians Maidens - the Indians attacked them and butchered them.

But you can believe the fiction. Its a novel after all.

Lewis Wetzel said...

I was shocked at the level of racism (against whites) in Morrison's Beloved. The whites enslaved Black people, not because they were wicked and greedy, but because they were white, and this is what white people do. Even the abolitionist Quakers dehumanized Black people, and they dehumanized Blacks because they were white. Dehumanizing and enslaving Blacks was to whites what chirping is to song birds -- it defines what they are.
The only defense Black people had was their community and the complete separation of that community from the whites.

tim in vermont said...

We are talking about two different things. But if you believe that their wasn’t horrific violence in the old west, in the wars of extirpation against the Plains Indians and those in the Southwest, and that killing off the buffalo wasn’t a strategy in a genocidal conflict, you are free to do so.

This historical gang of which you speak is kind of irrelevant to that subject.

FrankiM said...

“The Hive will not tolerate dissent, and African-Americans who bolt the Plantation and advocate genuine freedom are among the worst offenders.”

Oh please. How does this Hive tolerate dissent? Anyone, even a fellow Republican or conservative gets savaged if one word against Trump is expressed. You are such hypocrites.

dustbunny said...

I don’t think Cormac McCarthy is a leftist.

Andrew said...

The only Morrison book I read was Tar Baby, for a college course. It was okay, but certainly not great.

The problem with Toni Morrison, similar to Maya Angelou, is that you are obligated to consider her great and significant. If you don't, there's something wrong with you.

I have no problem acknowledging truly great black composers and musicians, and certain black writers. There's nothing forced or contrived about it. But when it comes to black female writers such as Morrison and Angelou, I get the impression that I'd better exalt them or else. "These voices are Important!" But what if I don't think they're very good? Angelou's poem for Clinton's inauguration was painful.

Having said that, there's one thing Morrison said that I truly appreciate. It's a brief clip of parenting advice. It changed the way I talked to my children.
https://youtu.be/CmZSHAD020E

tim in vermont said...

"even a fellow Republican or conservative gets savaged if one word against Trump is expressed.”

Savaged or refuted?

Ken B said...

I read Beloved. Don’t remember much. Hardly top tier anyway.

FrankiM said...

“Savaged or refuted?”

Savaged, as I said. Refutation is fine, attack for having a dissenting opinion is another matter and itnhappens daily here. Take the beam out of your own eyes before before attempting to take the speck out of others’. Just pointing out a rank hypocrisy.

readering said...

I started reading Rise & Fall of the Third Reich the summer before Eighth Grade. Carried the paperback with the big swastika on the cover around for a year. May have been spurred to start by reading the obituary of Franz Von Papen that May. Since I had already read some military history, the politics of the rise was what most interested me in the book, and especially Von Papen for some reason. What if in 1932-33 . . . . As a companion I purchased Hugh Trevor-Roper's edition of Hitler's War Directives, and then his The Last Days of Hitler (but he's English).

Ann Althouse said...

I assume the word "transfigured" was used because it's in "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" — "With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me..."

That echoed in the headline-writers memory as it seemed to fit the somber and weighty occasion and to have an appropriately racial feeling to it.

Ficta said...

I didn't really see Blood Meridian as exactly political, as such. It seemed to have far bigger concerns than mere politics.

Marcus said...

I didn't like assigned reading in high school (even if it was "good" for me) so I have a predisposition against recommended works by so-called popular authors. In some cases, I am just not the audience for certain writers.

THEOLDMAN

tim in vermont said...

“...His bosom that transfigures you and me...”

We have a citation of the word used correctly!

“Seemed,” “feels."

buwaya said...

Its interesting how "literature" has been academically redefined into only fiction, and that of a very particular sort.

This was not traditionally the case.

From ancient times history, philosophy, nearly any writing was literature.
And history, say, spilled into literature and literature into history.
In the 19th century Carlyle and Macaulay and Prescott and Parkman for instance were writers.
And Nietzsche would have had much less notice were it not for his literary qualities.

In the 20th you have Naipaul and Wolfe, who crossed categories in every way.

Birches said...

I think I've confused Toni Morrison and Terry McMillan. But now the outpouring of grief makes a little more sense.

buwaya said...

"Oh please. How does this Hive tolerate dissent? "

This hive won't get you fired, or blackball you for life.
So that's pretty good, as hives go.

buwaya said...

The narrowing of literature is not so advanced or absolute elsewhere.

Consider "Os Sertoes" - Euclides da Cunha - this is a non-fictional historico-sociological investigation of Brazil's Canudos rebellion. This is, in Brazil, considered a classic of literature.

Unfortunately I have only found one English translation of Os Sertoes, which does not seem to justify its reputation, and I don't do Portuguese well enough to get such subtleties as seem to be missing in English. For all I know da Cunha was a Brazilian Carlyle, but that is invisible to me.

Mario Vargas Llosa novelized it as "La guerra del fin del mundo", of which there is an excellent English translation, "War of the End of the World", which I highly reccommend.

narciso said...

martin amis, was very tedious in the 70s and 80s, showed some originality after September 11th, like his late colleague, Christopher hitchens, but in the last few years has returned back to the hive,

Jorge Volpi, the Mexican born New Wave writer behind in search of klingsor, has followed up unsuccessfully in some measure, same with valdez Gomez, the Colombian auteur behind his conradesque picaresque, history of costaguana,

narciso said...

I couldn't get into that one, but I did read 'the secret life of Alexandro mayta' in preparation for a piece on his presidential campaign,

buwaya said...

Another half-history/half novel well worth chasing down is John Keats "They Fought Alone", which is exactly that, a true story told novelistically. It did not, even in its day, receive a literary reception.

Compare to, say, "Away all Boats", Dodson. Dodsons book is a very thinly novelized memoir.

Either would be vastly better material for high school boys than anything by Morrisson.

Geoff Matthews said...

I hated Beloved. Had to read it in College, and found it tedious, boring and sad.

buwaya said...

"Bruce Catton's series on the Civil War surpasses Morison's series, which is saying something."

Having read both, several times, I disagree. But to each their own of course.
This is a question, perhaps, of scale and complication. USNOWWII has a way of showing us the inhuman vastness, and intricacy, of history.

buwaya said...

I will grant you that Catton had a more poetic streak than Morison.
Also granted that Morison led and edited a team, and much of USNOWWII is not his writing.

exiledonmainstreet, green-eyed devil said...

I'll take Cormac McCarthy over Morrison any day. I didn't like Beloved or Tar Baby and never read anything else by her. I figured I had given her a fair shot. If a novelist doesn't capture my interest by then - well, there are many, many books on my reading list.

I think "Invisible Man" was the best novel I've read by an American black author.

exiledonmainstreet, green-eyed devil said...

Their Eyes Were Watching God is not in the least bit scatological.

I liked that novel as well, although it wouldn't make my top 20 list.

Roughcoat said...


The book is not only exaggerated, the subtext is "hate Whitey".

No it is not. The many Indians and Mexicans and the few blacks that appear in the story all are at least equally as savage as Glanton's group. The fallen state of *all* men is readily apparent in McCarthy's epic. This is not a book about ethnicity and race, nor is ideological in any way, shape, or form.

And McCarthy is no leftist. Not by a long shot. You may be assured of this. In fact he has a deeply religious sensibility in which political ideology features not at all. This became apparent in his latter works, culminating in "The Road."

McCarthy is interested in the mystery and meaning of existence. All other concerns are trivial to him.

narciso said...

Phillip Meyer's American Son, most recently adapted into a series on a & e with pierce brosnan, had similar stylings,

Mccarthy has an ethos a little like dostoeyevski in the American contest, no country has that feel,

Andrew said...

Trump should tweet: "While not nearly as good as Wright, Baldwin, or Ellison (and she was certainly no Faulkner!) Toni Morrison was a very important American writer. RIP!"

Roughcoat said...

The reduction of the bison to near-extinction levels (as it happens, they weren't killed off) was *not* a strategy deliberately formulated and undertaken as part of a comprehensive genocidal strategy to accomplish the annihilation of the Native American population in North America. There was no intent or plan, either formal or informal, to kill off the Indians and the buffalo, any more than than the destruction of Ice Age mega fauna by the Paleolithic inhabitants of North America was undertaken as part of a planned genocidal strategy carried out against rival population groups. The conflicts between Native Americans and European settlers was purely situational and had a momentum all of its own. Such conflicts were taking place globally from roughly the fifteenth through the nineteenth century and represented the norm in encounters between advanced and primitive societies. Wherever these encounters occurred -- and they occurred in Central and East Asia, India, Meso and South America, and the Pacific -- the same patterns emerged and the primitive societies came off the worst for it. The 15th-19th was indeed the Age of Imperialism, and the imperialistic impulse was manifested worldwide.

And it is worth noting: both Native American and bison escaped annihilation; both are making a steady comeback.

Roughcoat said...

Should read: The period encompassing the 15th-19th centuries was indeed the Age of Imperialism . . .

I neglected to include Africa as a venue for the imperialist impulse, by native Africans. It was.

wholelottasplainin' said...

Nichevo said...

BTW is this the content of the hyperwar site?

*****

I don't think so. Abebooks has books about everything.

could you be referring to this one?

https://ibiblio.org/hyperwar/

Roughcoat said...

The massacre by a Commanche war band of the filibuster party in "Blood Meridian" -- an incident replete with the commission of hideous atrocities by the Indians, and the sodomizing of the wounded and dead white men -- was certainly fictional but it was not exaggerated. That was all standard operating procedure for the Commanche and, if anything, it didn't go far enough in portraying Commanche barbarity, insofar as it left out the unspeakably bestial and prolonged torture of captives who were taken alive for just that purpose. Such behavior is fully documented in the historical record of Commanche depredations in the southwest.

Same-same for the savage portrayal of other Indian tribes in that novel, in particular the war band commanded by Magnus Coloradus.



rcocean said...

"No it is not."

We'll just have to agree to disagree. You see "Meridian" : "The fallen state of *all* men is readily apparent in McCarthy's epic. This is not a book about ethnicity and race, nor is ideological in any way, shape, or form."

Meanwhile, I look at the history and see how McCarthy reshaped the story, and i feel he made it anti-white and leftist.

Maybe I'm wrong. "eye of the beholder" and all that.

rcocean said...

The problem I had with McCarthy's Comanche massacre is it never happened. And did the Comanche really sodomize dead and wounded white men? Paint me skeptical. Torture to death? Yes. And would a big band of armed Americans in 1849-1850 be slaughtered like that? No. They wouldn't be that incompetent.

IRC, what really happened, is that the Gov of the Mexican border state invited some Americans down to help him in the civil war. (The motives of the Americans who went have been debated ever since, but that's neither here nor there). Once they got down in Mexico, the Gov of Mexican state turned on the Americans. Why? Because his supporters were outraged he'd asked Gringo's to come down to Mexico. The American leader and some of his men got trapped in a town, killed, and their remains put up for display. The rest of the Americans vamoosed back to the USA, as quickly as possible.

McCarthy portrays this as a bunch of Manifest Destiny white 'muricans going down to Mexico to conquer and pillage. Then they run into the Comanche who butcher them, cause they're so dumb. A few stragglers make it to Mexican town where they get murdered and put on display. Except for our protagonists.

rcocean said...

Anyway, I'm too literal minded sometimes to understand that Authors are being metaphorical or blah de bleh.

Roughcoat said...

And would a big band of armed Americans in 1849-1850 be slaughtered like that? No. They wouldn't be that incompetent.

Tell that to the 7th Cavalry.

rcocean said...

"Tell that to the 7th Cavalry."

Blame Custer for that one. He thought it was just an undefended Indian village, but right over the hill were 2,000 Indians. Patton was wrong. Sometimes:

de l'audace, encore de l'audace, et toujours de l'audace

Turns out to be dead wrong.

Nichevo said...

https://ibiblio.org/hyperwar/

Right, them. Long detailed WWII narratives. Seems to come from official accounts. Putting 2+2 I thought...Morison?

Michael said...

Roughcoat
Agree with your assessment of Blood Meridian. Alan Bloom, Inelieve, rayed it the great American novel. Above Moby Dick.

Nichevo said...

Sometimes:

de l'audace, encore de l'audace, et toujours de l'audace

Turns out to be dead wrong.

If only he had brought along the Gatling guns:

de la mitrailleuse, encore de la mitrailleuse, et toujours de la mitrailleuse

Tina Trent said...

Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon were Morrison writing. Wish she kept doing that.

Beloved was Morrison channeling Faulkner.

She was a good writer but not a great one. Faulkner is probably busy getting all his relative clauses back right about now.

Michael K said...

And would a big band of armed Americans in 1849-1850 be slaughtered like that? No. They wouldn't be that incompetent.

Tell that to the 7th Cavalry.


I visited Custer Battlefield before it went all PC. You could stand by that little graveyard and look down that hill. I could, almost see the Indians coming up that hill. Custer was far too arrogant and ignored Terry who could have saved that troop.

narciso said...

there's a thin line between bravery and arrogance, which custer crossed it, almost a century there was another operation about 3,000 miles away where intelligence was lacking, even though the commander was righteous, involving part of the same unit,

Laslo Spatula said...

“The Bluest Eye” (1970), Ms. Morrison’s debut novel, does NOT have anything to do with "The Brownest Eye," a 90's DVD with an entirely different plot.

I am Laslo.

tim in vermont said...

I wonder if the guy in Blood Meridian who was bald from head to toe had to blow his nose all of the time because he had no nose hair, like the villain in The Spy Who Loved Me.

RichardJohnson said...

Molly @ 11:49 AM
However, as a Republican (or, some say, a Libertarian), Hurston was never going to be as popular as Morrison.

Hurston's book Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo" didn't get released until 2018.From the Amazon review:

In 1927, Zora Neale Hurston traveled to Plateau, Alabama, to visit eighty-six-year-old Cudjo Lewis, a survivor of the Clotilda, the last slaver known to have made the transatlantic journey. Illegally brought to the United States, Cudjo was enslaved fifty years after the slave trade was outlawed.

At the time, Cudjo was the only person alive who could recount this integral part of the nation’s history. As a cultural anthropologist, Hurston was eager to hear about these experiences firsthand. But the reticent elder didn’t always speak when she came to visit. Sometimes he would tend his garden, repair his fence, or appear lost in his thoughts.

Hurston persisted, though, and during an intense three-month period, she and Cudjo communed over her gifts of peaches and watermelon, and gradually Cudjo, a poetic storyteller, began to share heartrending memories of his childhood in Africa; the attack by female warriors who slaughtered his townspeople; the horrors of being captured and held in the barracoons of Ouidah for selection by American traders; the harrowing ordeal of the Middle Passage aboard the Clotilda as “cargo” with more than one hundred other souls; the years he spent in slavery until the end of the Civil War; and finally his role in the founding of Africatown.

Barracoon employs Hurston’s skills as both an anthropologist and a writer, and brings to life Cudjo’s singular voice, in his vernacular, in a poignant, powerful tribute to the disremembered and the unaccounted. This profound work is an invaluable contribution to our history and culture.


A book whose teller is bitter about the fellow Africans who sold him into slavery- not difficult to understand why it wasn't published for decades.

Roughcoat said...

I like Custer. Interesting guy, and quite appealing after a fashion. Brave as the day is long, and smart. As one of the Army of Potomac's ablest young cavalry generals, he performed brilliantly at Gettysburg. Not really arrogant: it wasn't arrogance that got him killed and his command wiped out, it was a combination of miscalculation, bad luck, and Indian determination.

And his wife Libby? Fuhgeddaboutit. Hotter than a two-dollar pistol.

Roughcoat said...

I wonder if the guy in Blood Meridian who was bald from head to toe had to blow his nose all of the time because he had no nose hair, like the villain in The Spy Who Loved Me.

I doubt it, given that Holden, a.k.a. "The Judge", was a demonic entity, the personification of evil. In my experience, personifications of evil are in no wise discommfited by a lack of nose hair.

Narr said...

Yeah, and the Injuns would have died assaulting the Gatlings like Dervishes against Maxims!

Not. The Indians knew that they had the advantage of numbers, weaponry, and position; by the time horse-drawn rapid-firers could be deployed, the fight would be elsewhere (or the crews picked off by marksmen).

Thomas Berger's "Little Big Man" (not sure who screenplayed it) was a good read, not as slapstick IIRC as the film.

Never read T. Morrison despite African-American interests and study; never read the Admiral SEM despite WWII and milhist obsessions.

Catton's Army of the Potomac trilogy is (was?--I should reread it) stupendous. A great example of popular history that Keegan might have called belles-lettres-istic. I'm less fond of his, or of Foote's war trilogies.

Grant's Memoirs, mentioned above, a must read. On a much lesser and later scale, two memoirs by William S. Triplet (1900-?)-- A Youth in the Meuse-Argonne, and A Colonel with the Armoured Divisions are superb accounts of service as an enlisted man in WWI and a CC commander in WWII.

Narr
Reports due next week!

Roughcoat said...

Narr:

I totally agree about the likely non-efficacy of the Gatlings. They might have been useful to the Reno-Benteen defense site, if they could have been moved into that position. Their mobility was dubious and they were very vulnerable in transit. Certainly they couldn't have kept up with Custer's troop.

I hated Little Big Man for many reasons, but primarily for its portrayal of Custer as a demented delusionial asshole. Talk about a "hate whitey" movie ...

tim in vermont said...

So, Roughcoat, what do you think the larger message was of Blood Meridian?

Michael K said...

it wasn't arrogance that got him killed and his command wiped out,

It's been a few yeas but I did a lot of reading about that event and he ignored a lot of good advice. Terry was nearby,. Reno got away With most of his men.

The Wiki account is all about the Indians and the battlefield site has been redirected as Indian history. I was there before these changes and you could see from the location of head stones what happened.

Michael K said...

I hated Little Big Man for many reasons, but primarily for its portrayal of Custer as a demented delusionial asshole. Talk about a "hate whitey" movie ...

Possible exceeded by "Dances with Wolves."

narciso said...

years ago in high school, I had a small volume of poetry, signed by the author here,

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/931205.USA_tierra_condenada

he spent 20 years in the Cuban prisons,

pious agnostic said...

I don't think I ever enjoyed a single book I was ever assigned to read in school. And I've been an avid reader since I could hold a book steady in my own two hands.

But if I was forced to read it, it held no interest for me. I counted those pages wasted time.

Now that I am old, I have revisited some of those assigned books and found some of them good, some of them not.

My opinion stands.

narciso said...

he was part of the student movement against Fidel, the founder salvat, is the owner of one of the largest Spanish bookstores in Miami,

rcocean said...

I tried to google Alberto Muller and USA_tierra_condenada

and got little that was English. Google translates it to "Condemned Land".

narciso said...

yes, you got the gist, I had it at one time, but in the many different times I moved I probably misplaced it,

rcocean said...

Grant and Sherman's memoirs are fantastic. I actually liked Sherman's better, because he was more Candid and less of a national hero. Sherman wasn't afraid to be petty and nasty - he didn't care. But Grant had to be more "political" because he was the C-in-C and former POTUS.

The Confederate Generals except for Taylor, Hood and Longstreet aren't as Good. AP Hill, Bragg, Stuart, Lee and Jackson never wrote their memoirs, mostly because they died too soon. Jefferson Davis, Joe Johnston and Beauregard were somewhat pompous.

Roughcoat said...

So, Roughcoat, what do you think the larger message was of Blood Meridian.

That's a big question and, apologies, I'm not prepared to answer it now. Except to say that I'm not entirely sure that one can speak of McCarthy's writing in terms of messages to be found therein. I don't think he writes with the intent of providing a message. That, of course, begs the question: what is his intent? I think I sense what his intent is, but I lack the ability to articulate it other than to say (and as I mentioned above) that he has a deeply religious sensibility and that his concern is with the mystery of existence, the mystery of evil, and the cosmic conflict between good and evil.

In an interview he said (I'm paraphrasing) that an author's main concern should be death otherwise he is not a serious writer and not worth reading. I wrote him a very long letter, some 10 pages and more, explaining what I thought he was about in Blood Meridian; and he wrote back to say that I had more or less hit the mark. But I cannot now recreate what I said in that letter, and unfortunately I lost my copy of it. (I do, however, have his reply).

In my most recent reading of Blood Meridian I was struck by the "Kid's" moral sensibility and his compassion and sensitivity to the suffering of others, animals as well as people -- this was as aspect of his character I had not previously recognized. Nor had I recognized that the Kid grows morally as the story progresses until by the end there is much about him that we find at once admirable and sympathetic, not to mention tragic. He more than anyone else sees the Judge for what he is, and is thoroughly repulsed by him even though he held strangely in the Judge's thrall. The Kid at one point could have killed Holden (at least insofar as you can kill the corporeal body of demonic being) and wanted to, but barely refrains from doing so because of his complicated relationship with the Judge. I think it is significant that the Kid is never depicted in the book as committing an atrocity per se, although he certainly takes part in the fighting that Glanton's party is frequently engaged in. That's not to say that the Kid did not commit atrocities, only that McCarthy does not show him committing atrocity, which is significant in an of itself.

Even Glanton has certain complexities of character. E.g., a wife and children left behind in Texas. Also, and most interestingly, the scene that in which they are riding through an Aspen forest and Glanton picks an Aspen leaf off a branch and twirls it by the stem while gazing at contemplatively, then lets go of it and watches as it falls whirling to the ground: "And its perfection," writes McCarthy, "was not lost on him."

Narr said...

Agreed about most of the Confederate why-it-wasn't-my-fault accounts. Even Pemberton was provoked to defend himself from JEJ-- late, and about as successfully as he did in Mississippi against Grant. Davis and Johnston deserved each other, and it takes a bad cause to deserve them (see their command authority discussions in the summer of '63).

Narr
They could have opened a law firm: Pettyfogg and Piffler

Roughcoat said...

Apologies for typos in my preceding post. Writing in haste, and haste makes mistakes.

Michael K said...

I actually liked Sherman's better,

He wrote them soon after the war, They were very controversial and he wrote from memory so had a few dates wrong.

Liddell Hart's biography is also excellent. He said that Sherman was the most modern general of the civil war, WWI ignored most of his lessons, probably because of the stupidity of the British generals and French generals. Trench warfare evolved in the Civil War. It was WWII before his lessons were followed.

Roughcoat said...

I visited/toured the Gettyburg battlefield just two weeks ago. It was a deeply meaningful and profoundly moving experience. Last night I finished reading Steven Sears's magnificently written book on the battle. Came away from both -- the battlefield and the book -- with newfound respect for Meade. Sears nails it: he says that Meade thoroughly outgeneraled Lee. Also that Lee never did quite grasp, or could not admit, that this was indeed the case.

rcocean said...

Yep. I was moved by the Gettysburg Battlefield too. I Remember stand on Little round top or Cemetery Ridge and thinking: How the hell did the guys in Grey ever get CLOSE to taking this thing.

There's no way in hell, I would've marched across all that open ground and up those hills with someone shooting at me!

rcocean said...

"Liddell Hart's biography is also excellent."

Thanks for the recommendation. I'll take a look.

rcocean said...

"Agreed about most of the Confederate why-it-wasn't-my-fault accounts."

Ha. Excellent description.

tim in vermont said...

Thanks Roughcoat.

Howard said...

The only way you people can not be openly racist on a post like this is by feeding each other War Porn in a virtual circle jerk.

stephen cooper said...

I often wonder, about people who die without having repented for their support of abortion, if there was a moment or two on their last day where they said, hey, I enjoyed this ride ---- I had many good moments --- for God's sake what was I thinking all those years when I did all I could to keep women from feeling bad about aborting their children and feeling ok about that selfish unloving act -----
that act that kept so many of my fellow humans from having even a few moments of happiness in this life

and I never wonder if the novels of "Toni Morrison" are worth reading, she is going on the dump heap of history with her fellow haters

I read a few paragraphs the poor lady was not talented

Remember this: if you think you have the right to life and the little babies of the next generation do not ....

remember this ---- unless you repent, you too will be remembered as a selfish sinner

I want you you to have the best life you can but you really need to repent

Nichevo said...

Blogger Howard said...
The only way you people

Is that you, John Wayne?
Is this me?

Lurker21 said...

I wasn't that crazy about her books, but I wouldn't have been crazy about Faulkner's if I read them when they first came out. In both cases, it was critics who made their reputations, not readers. Critics and Europeans.

I don't think Faulkner was awarded the Nobel because he wrote about Black people. Not directly anyway. African-Americans weren't as big a topic in 1950 as they are now. He won because Europeans discovered his books when they were out of print in the US and took them to heart. They expressed something about the tragic mood of the Forties. As in Hemingway's works, it was the tragic tension between nihilism and the will to believe in something.

Faulkner was seen as a modernist with a message -- a message that could be taken as a moralistic or humanistic message of hope under hopeless conditions. It could also be taken as a social message -- a criticism of the American capitalist dream. Race was a part of the social message that Europeans found in the books, but it was nowhere near as large a part of the message as it would be today.

Morrison got the award just a few years after a major controversy about her not winning the National Book Award for Beloved. The outcry was so loud that she was given the Pulitzer that year and the Nobel five years later. Were those "affirmative action" awards? I don't know. If I couldn't have figured out for myself that The Sound and the Fury or As I Lay Dying were great books -- if I needed critics and teachers to tell me that -- the fact that I didn't see much in Beloved either isn't going to be last word on Toni Morrison.

Nichevo said...

stephen cooper said...
I often wonder

I often wonder why you talk about love all the time but you seem to hate everybody you mention. Always a criticism, never praise.

Howard said...

It's the duality of Man, that Nietzsche thing.

Howard said...

Praise results in pride, the Apex Sin

buwaya said...

War porn is the foundation of literature. The Iliad is massive war porn.
This is because war, or its close analogues, is fundamental to human nature.
It is the source of all real drama, not the vanity born pseudo drama of romance.

Narr said...

I've been to Gettysburg five or six times, and almost went in 2018 but saw other things instead. In fact, I've been to every major WABAWTS battlefield, some numerous times, and would gladly fill out my card with the Louisiana sites and--who knows--the far western ones.

Gettysburg is TOO overgrown with monuments and markers, but still worth the trip if you have the time.

I've always given Meade credit, not so much for an active defense as for simply not freaking out as so many of his predecessors did. And the AoP command overall was definitely sharper than the ANV's at that time.

Narr
Ooh, war porn . . . hold me!

Narr said...

That's General Meade of course, I know nothing of our Meade's predecessors.

Narr
Taps y'all

narciso said...

And they did a terrible job with troy, of course it required a miniseries.

Narayanan said...

Lovernios said

From Samuel Eliot Morison's statue on Commonwealth Ave: "Dream dreams and write them, aye. But live them first."

How many authors live the dreams they write?

That's an important question.

Thomas Jefferson wrote a dream but left a nightmare.

If you can acknowledge the dream, and want to live it - Why refuse to heal those hurting in the aftermath?

buwaya said...

In the end you cannot heal the hurting.
You can treat physical wounds, or feed the starving.
But the "wounds" being alleged these days are of a different nature, and cannot be healed by anyone human.

Narayanan said...

True. But strident denying the nightmare don't help either. Ends up Driving the wounded towards race-charlatans.

Lewis Wetzel said...

FrankiM wrote:
Oh please. How does this Hive tolerate dissent? Anyone, even a fellow Republican or conservative gets savaged if one word against Trump is expressed. You are such hypocrites.
I think Trump is a loudmouthed idiot who doesn't know that he should stop tweeting stupid shit.
This is not only what I think, it is what hundreds or thousands of conservative web sites write every day. They aren't savaged.
So FrankiM doesn't know what the Hell he is talking about, and, like a lot of idiots, that doesn't stop him from parading his ignorance for all to see.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Blogger Howard said...
The only way you people can not be openly racist on a post like this is by feeding each other War Porn in a virtual circle jerk.
8/6/19, 8:37 PM

Howard, no matter how many cliches you string together, they still don't make an original thought.
The world is a sad place that way. Originality requires originality.

Narayanan said...

Blogger Howard said...
Praise results in pride, the Apex Sin.

You are defining vanity.

Proper pride is to be choosy about accepting praise -

tim in vermont said...

Howard has told you people time and again that he is trolling

Lewis Wetzel said...

Not the apex sin, Narayanan. The mother sin, the sin from which all others erupt.

Lewis Wetzel said...

What makes you think that I am not trolling Howard, AAT?

Michael K said...

Blogger Howard said...
The only way you people can not be openly racist on a post like this is by feeding each other War Porn in a virtual circle jerk.


Howard does not tolerate military stuff. It triggers him something awful. Dirty underwear and all.

Smells, too.

M Jordan said...

My two favorite books of the latter half of the 20th century are “Princess Bride” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Also, I really liked “Lonesome Dove.” Of the three only “Cuckoo’s Nest” would be considered literature by the snobs but all three really are, at least in my mind.

“Princess Bride” uses layered points of view (narration) masterfully as well as parody of classical literature. “Cuckoo’s Nest” almost singlehandedly changed institutional mental health care in the US ... though upon reflection of current events, maybe not for the better. And “Lonesome Dove” captures the American spirit like nothing else.

None of the books were sermons.

readering said...

I loved Lonesome Dove and since it won a Pulitzer I should think it qualifies as literature. Long been meaning to read Last Picture Show.

Fen said...

Howard has told you people time and again that he is trolling

First time I've heard of it. And I was one of the ones who tried to treat him fairly.

Lesson learned, but next time a Lefty strolls in and I blow his brains out, don't blame me, blame Howard. The reason I assume the Left is NEVER operating in good faith is because of people like Howard. You don't want to step up and police your own side, fine, but don't whine when you step in front of an overhand right that was meant for him.

Fen said...

there's a thin line between bravery and arrogance, which custer crossed

Brave as the day is long, and smart. As one of the Army of Potomac's ablest young cavalry generals, he performed brilliantly at Gettysburg. Not really arrogant: it wasn't arrogance that got him killed and his command wiped out, it was a combination of miscalculation, bad luck, and Indian determination.

I wonder how much that has to do with the operation (culture?) of Calvary in general? My unit, 3rd LAR operated very much like light calvary, and I remember many times where everything depended on how BOLD we were. Do it right and the enemy is routed in panic, one mistake though and you get decimated.

Fen said...

History seems to be full of great flanking maneuvers that changed the outcome of battle.|

OR

Charges of the Light Brigade into total annihilation.


There don't seem to be many accounts of Calvary quietly retiring from the field.

dustbunny said...

This has been the most interesting comment section I’ve read for a good while. Thanks Roughcoat for the notes on Blood Meridian. It’s been on my shelf for years but I’ve still not read it. Time to do so.

Josephbleau said...

“Nobody made me as I recall, I recon I just growed.” This line pleased me when I read it. I found few other gems in Morrison.

Howard said...

With Inga gone, I have to work twice as hard to keep you people going. Based on all the comments, I can tell you really really appreciate it

Tina Trent said...

@rcocean

John O'Hara is one of the most underrated American authors. Several people here would like him, I think.

Zora Neale Hurston and George Schuyler are conservative black writers worth a look. Schuyler abandoned socialism early, wrote for Mencken, then became a prominent Bircher (unlike the official myth, back when Buckley was still incontinently racist, the Birchers were already long integrated). His only child, a daughter, was a piano prodigy who died while reporting in Vietnam. Very interesting people. He wrote a few noir mysteries based on Ethiopian politics. They're not great genre fiction but odd enough to seek out.

I still think Updike is our greatest modern author. The Nobel socialists can pound sand. Updike, Saul Bellow, James Baldwin -- the essays and novels and movie and literary and social criticism are extraordinary. Who can write this way these days, both fiction and prose? Baldwin's takedown of Norman Mailer is beautiful. There was a lot of amphetamines fueling a lot of good productivity, and bad, in the Sixties, but those three men just wrote all the time.

John D. MacDonald also got so much done because he wasn't a drunk. Nor were Updike and Bellow. MacDonald lived in a writer's colony on Longboat Key, and every day the drunk writers would hoist a flag when they were ready to kick back and start imbibing. He kept working instead.

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