Paul EdwardsJun 30, 2022
Paul Edwards on Toni Morrison's "Playing in the Dark"
Book Talk 53
New Books Network 2022
Toni Morrison’s Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination is a must-read for anyone interested in American literature and in the formation of American identity in general. In her short, incisive book, Nobel-prize winner Morrison explores the ways in which canonical authors like Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Willa Cather, William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway conspicuously invented African American characters for their projects of creating American identity – and how critics have deliberately overlooked, ignored or dismissed this dimension of the American canon. Morrison’s point is not to out these writers as racist or to cancel their works but to explain the role of African American figures in the aesthetic and artistic project of inventing American identity and a canon of national literature. I spoke with Paul Edwards, who is my colleague as Assistant Professor of English and Dramatic Literature at New York University and a book reviews editor for The Black Scholar. Professor Edwards’s current book project, The Black Wave: The New Negro Renaissance in Interwar Germany, reveals the effects of the New Negro/Harlem Renaissance in Germany from 1925 to 1938.