The Origin of Others

The Origin of Others

Book - 2017
Average Rating:
Rate this:
America's foremost novelist reflects on the themes that preoccupy her work and increasingly dominate national and world politics: race, fear, borders, the mass movement of peoples, the desire for belonging. What is race and why does it matter? What motivates the human tendency to construct Others? Why does the presence of Others make us so afraid? Drawing on her Norton Lectures, Toni Morrison takes up these and other vital questions bearing on identity in The Origin of Others. In her search for answers, the novelist considers her own memories as well as history, politics, and especially literature. Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor, and Camara Laye are among the authors she examines. Readers of Morrison's fiction will welcome her discussions of some of her most celebrated books--Beloved, Paradise, and A Mercy. If we learn racism by example, then literature plays an important part in the history of race in America, both negatively and positively. Morrison writes about nineteenth-century literary efforts to romance slavery, contrasting them with the scientific racism of Samuel Cartwright and the banal diaries of the plantation overseer and slaveholder Thomas Thistlewood. She looks at configurations of blackness, notions of racial purity, and the ways in which literature employs skin color to reveal character or drive narrative. Expanding the scope of her concern, she also addresses globalization and the mass movement of peoples in this century. National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates provides a foreword to Morrison's most personal work of nonfiction to date.
Publisher: Cambridge, Massachusetts :, Harvard University Press,, 2017
ISBN: 9780674976450
Call Number: 809.8896 M8347o
Characteristics: xvii, 114 pages ; 19 cm
Additional Contributors: Coates, Ta-Nehisi


From Library Staff

Timely reflections on literature and race by the Nobel prize-winning author Toni Morrison.

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

squib Mar 14, 2018

for such a small book, it is dense with insight. Highly recommended.

Dec 11, 2017

The essays start off well, but then end talking about herself and her work rather than about the subject and discovering (or developing) what the origin of others is. Very sensitive and well written, just not very insightful.

Nov 24, 2017

This book is so amazing it should be the textbook for a college class on "Others". I am making a list of necessary reading from the text.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at SFPL

To Top