Wednesday, March 31, 2021

"The reader becomes disoriented": The stupid reader in an article on Toni Morrison's "Sula"

Literary critics often refer to "the reader" quite sloppily. But the scholar whose work on Toni Morrison's "Sula" my class considered this week even constructed a stupid reader to prop up her ideas: "The reader becomes disoriented – for which character [Nel or Sula] does Morrison try to win the reader's allegiance?" But an experienced novel reader knows that no such choice between characters is necessary. Even after a reference to Dostoevsky, such an artificial choice reappears: "The reader is never sure who is 'good' and who is 'evil'." Morrison, like Dostoevsky, doesn't create such simplistic characters for naive and reductive readers who, as the article concludes, "keep searching for a message." (Andrew Shields, #111words, 31 March 2021)

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