LITERATURE

Goodness and the Literary Imagination

Univ. of Virginia. Oct. 2019. 256p. ed. by David Carrasco & others. illus. ISBN 9780813943626. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780813943633. LIT
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In her 2012 Ingersoll Lecture at Harvard, Nobel Prize–winning author Morrison (1931–2019) talked about goodness and literary imagination, suggesting that evil gets all the theatrics and attention while its counterpart is silent backstage. Morrison outlined three types of goodness and discussed how they appear in her novels. Here, Carrasco (religion & history, Harvard Univ.), Stephanie Paulsell (theology, Harvard Divinity Sch.; Religion Around Virginia Woolf), and Mara Willard (religion, theology, ethics, Boston Coll.) collect scholarly essays based on this lecture that explore Morrison’s work using her definitions of goodness. Divided into three sections, “Significant Landscapes and Sacred Places,” “Putting Goodness Onstage,” and “Giving Goodness a Voice,” and examining works such as The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, Beloved, Paradise, A Mercy, and Love, the volume concludes with a follow-up interview between Carrasco and Morrison, in which Morrison delves further into her ideas.
VERDICT Interestingly, the essayists here, rather than literary experts, specialize in religion, history, theology, and ethics, which provides a refreshing analysis and perspective on Morrison’s work and a valuable contribution to Morrison scholarship.

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