Chloe Wofford

Chloe Wofford Talks about Toni Morrison

Entrevista a Toni Morrison, autora de Beloved, o The Bluest Eye. Sus autores favoritos y sentimientos al recibir el premio Nobel de Literatura. También un vocabulario sobre Princeton,  deadpan,  y bigot.

The woman breezing into a Princeton, N.J., restaurant … is Toni Morrison, 63, … the 1993 Nobel Prize winner for literature. Heads turn as she moves to a table…
"Princeton's fine for me right now," she explains as we sit down to lunch. "I have wonderful students and good friends here. Besides, I'm in the middle of a new novel and I don't want to think about where I'm living."…
As a luncheon companion, she is great fun -- a woman of subversive jokes, gossip and surprising bits of self-revelation… The stories Morrison likes to tell have this deadpan/astonished quality to them… One suspects that Morrison long ago figured out how to battle the cruelties of race with her wit…
Q: What role did books play in your childhood?

A: Major. A driving thing. The security I felt, the pleasure, when new books arrived was immense. My mother belonged to a book club, one of those early ones. And that was hard-earned money, you know.
Q: As a young reader, when you encountered racial stereotypes in the classics of American literature – in Ernest Hemingway or Willa Cather or William Faulkner -- how did you deal with them?
A: I skipped that part. Read over it. Because I loved those books. I loved them. So when they said these things that were profoundly racist, I forgave them. As for Faulkner, I read him with enormous pleasure. He seemed to me the only writer who took black people seriously. Which is not to say he was, or was not, a bigot….
Q: Which authors influenced you when you began writing?
A: James Baldwin. He could say something in a phrase that clarified all sorts of conflicting feelings. Before Baldwin, I got excited by fiction through reading the African novelists, men and women -- Chinua Achebe, Camara Laye. Also Bessie Head and the Negritude Movement, including Leopold Sedar Senghor and Aime Cesaire. They did not explain their black world. Or clarify it. Or justify it. White writers had always taken white centrality for granted. They inhabited their world in a central position and everything nonwhite was "other." These African writers took their blackness as central and the whites were the "other."…
Q: When you began writing, the best-known black literary voices were male -- Ralph Ellison, Baldwin, Richard Wright. Did you make a conscious effort to change that?
A: When I began writing I didn't write against existing voices. There had been some women writing – Paule Marshall, Zora Neale Hurston, though I hadn't read Hurston yet. When I began, there was just one thing that I wanted to write about, which was the true devastation of racism on the most vulnerable, the most helpless unit in the society -- a black female and a child. I wanted to write about what it was like to be the subject of racism. It had a specificity that was damaging. And if there was no support system in the community and in the family, it could cause spiritual death, self-loathing, terrible things.
Once I did that, I wanted to write another book. By the time I wrote the third one, I began to think in terms of what had gone on before -- whether my territory was different. I felt what I was doing was so unique that I didn't think a man could possibly understand what the little girl in "The Bluest Eye" was feeling. I did not think a white person could describe it. So I thought I was telling a tale untold… (Chloe Wofford Talks about Toni Morrison)

Vocabulary
Princeton, N. J.: fue fundado antes de la revolución americana y es conocido por ser el lugar donde se ubica Princeton University, en el lugar desde 1756.

Deadpan: es un adjetivo que describe maneras sin emociones. Es otra forma de hacer humor sin cambios en las emociones o el lenguaje del cuerpo. Esta forma también es llamada dry humor o dry wit.

Bigot: El ingles pidió prestado este bigot del francés con el sentido de hipócrita religioso a principios del siglo 17. En ingles el término vino a ser aplicado a las personas que se aferran a un sistema de creencias, y por extensión personas que son intolerantes a aquellos que son diferentes en alguna forma.

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