Carmean, Karen. Toni Morrison’s World of Fiction. Troy, NY: Whitson Publishing Company, 1993.
Karen Carmean’s study provides close analyses of each of Morrison’s first six novels. The final chapter, on Morrison’s “trilogy in progress,” examines Beloved alongside Jazz, which gives the student a sense of the larger literary project to which Beloved belongs.
Conner, Marc C., ed. The Aesthetics of Toni Morrison: Speaking the Unspeakable. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2000.
This edited volume collects eight essays that engage closely with Morrison’s fiction, nonfiction, and critical writing. Whereas many critical studies of Morrison’s work emphasize its engagement with society and history, this volume examines the aesthetic principles that guide Morrison’s writing.
David, Ron. Toni Morrison Explained: A Reader’s Road Map to the Novels. New York: Random House, 2000.
Ron David’s book provides a “road map” that helps readers track and make sense of various themes that appear throughout Morrison’s novels. The volume will prove useful for any reader who feels challenged by the formal difficulty of Morrison’s fiction.
Denard, Carolyn C., ed. Toni Morrison Conversations. Jackson, MS: University of Mississippi Press, 2008.
Carolyn Denard’s edited volume collects 25 different interviews with journalists, scholars, and other writers that Morrison gave over the span of thirty years. Readers will find a wealth of information about Morrison’s own life as well as her thoughts on literature, history, politics, and society.
Grewal, Gurleen. Circles of Sorrow, Lines of Struggle: The Novels of Toni Morrison. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1998.
Gurleen Grewal’s monograph situates Morrison as a literary writer who unflinchingly examines America’s history, reconstructing social memory in order to problematize national identity. Grewal grounds her argument in close readings of Morrison’s first six novels.
Holden-Kirwan, Jennifer L. “Looking into the Self That Is No Self: An Examination of Subjectivity in Beloved,” African American Review 32, no. 3 (1998): 415–26.
In this scholarly article, Jennifer Holden-Kirwan explores the complex representation of Beloved’s identity in Morrison’s novel. More specifically, Holden-Kirwan examines the tensions between what Morrison depicts of Beloved’s internal thoughts and what other characters in the novel make of Beloved from external observation.
Middleton, David L., ed. Toni Morrison’s Fiction: Contemporary Criticism. New York: Garland Publishing, 1997.
This edited volume is split into six sections, and each section features multiple essays on one of Morrison’s first six novels. The section on Beloved includes three interpretive essays that examine subjects such as apocalypse, ghosts, and postmodernism.
Morrison, Toni. The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations. New York: Knopf, 2019.
This substantive collection of Morrison’s own critical writing provides the reader with a rich sense of the author’s broader political and aesthetic preoccupations. The essays collected here consider a wide range of subjects on African American literature, history, politics, and more. Students will find Morrison’s critical essay “On Beloved” especially valuable.
Page, Philip. Dangerous Freedom: Fusion and Fragmentation in Toni Morrison’s Novels. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1995.
Page understands fragmentation as both a theme and a formal device in Morrison’s work. For example, Morrison frequently represents her characters as divided souls, and Page sees this kind of fragmented representation as an invitation for the reader to empathize deeply with those characters and the particular challenges they face. Philip Page’s study emphasizes the importance of fragmentation in Morrison’s first six novels.
Solomon, Barbara H., ed. Critical Essays on Toni Morrison’s Beloved. New York: G. K. Hall, 1998.
Focusing specifically on Beloved, this edited volume collects ten contemporary reviews of the novel as well as seventeen interpretive essays. Taken together, the volume exhibits an impressive range of critical methods and introduces the reader to a diverse array of interpretations.
Sumana, K. The Novels of Toni Morrison: A Study in Race, Gender and Class. New Delhi: Prestige Books, 1998.
K. Sumana’s monograph provides an in-depth study of the complex relationships between race, gender, and class in Morrison’s first six novels. Whereas many studies of Morrison’s work take either a political or an aesthetic approach, Sumana’s argument brings politics and aesthetics together.