Category: Jazz and Purgatory

Some synthesized thoughts on Jazz/Purgatorio part 1

While I think there is a benefit to examining specific similarities between Morrison’s Jazz and Dante’s Purgatorio, I also believe that, in order to make more progress on this project, it is important to also see these similarities on a broader level. I’m almost finished with Purgatorio, but now I’ve read enough to be able to see some larger trends that are present in both texts. Through my reading, I’ve found four distinct threads that I feel are important for both Jazz and Purgatorio. These can then be further subdivided and of course are up for debate (and I definitely think my own thoughts would benefit from larger discussions). I thought perhaps this organized list would be the best way to show my thinking:

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Recurrence of “Vesper”

In my rereading of Jazz, I was intrigued on page 30 when Morrison begins a paragraph with, “They met in Vesper County, Virginia, under a walnut tree.” I knew that Vespers was a type of prayer, and so immediately I marked it in my text, knowing that at least it had somewhat of a (potentially superficial) connection to religion, and therefore potentially Dante.

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Dante, Morrison, and the prevalence of “violence”

**I’ll just start with saying that this is definitely going to be one out of a few blog posts I write in the next few days. I’m seeing a lot of connections between the two texts and have just some other thoughts on this whole process/project and I think that my ideas are best understood if they’re separated into different posts, rather than one giant one. So, bear with me if my name pops up here a ton.**

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“Love” in Jazz

In my last post, I was thinking about the three categories of love that Dante splits Purgatory into: Misdirected Love, Deficient Love, and Excessive Love. I’ve been trying to compare this to how Morrison uses love in Jazz. So last night I became the human “control + F” and scanned through Jazz, trying to find every use of “love.” What I found was that the word love often was described with an adjective; and (get this!) in a book supposedly about “couple love,” according to Morrison’s forward, the word itself was used WAY more in the beginning of the novel. I haven’t quite figured out where I’d place that in terms of connections to how Dante uses love, but I figured I’d share the ways in which Morrison uses the word here:

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Jazz (take two) thoughts

I figured I’d post this after finishing Jazz now for the second time. Literally like right after. I think I put the book down three minutes ago. There’s a feeling that comes after finishing a novel and if you don’t act on it, it goes away. So I figured maybe I’d try to capture it in a post. (This might be long) Read more

Toni Morrison’s Jazz and Dante Alighieri’s Purgatorio: Out in the Open

As Erin Herbst‘s and Brianne Briggmann‘s posts indicate, we along with Ron Herzman are taking the first steps towards a collaborative essay exploring how Toni Morrison’s Jazz recapitulates and revises Dante Alighieri’s Purgatorio.

The project is an offshoot of Fall 2016’s Toni Morrison’s Trilogy course where the class concentrated on the relationship between Morrison’s Paradise and Dante’s Paradiso, and we hope to do much of the thinking towards it in public.

There are risks to doing so, of course. For instance, anyone from anywhere can read this, scrape our interpretations, and use them elsewhere without credit or citation. Read more

Ascending Through the Texts

I will be the first to admit that I do not have much background knowledge on the Harlem Renaissance coming into Lewis’ book. I do take some blame for this myself as I haven’t done thorough independent research on Harlem in the 1920’s, but I’m going to shed most of the blame on current high school curricula. However, as I am beginning to read When Harlem was in Vogue I am quickly learning much more about Harlem and its history as a host of a civil rights revolution. Read more

When Harlem Was In Vogue chapter 1 thoughts

I may as well start with the disclaimer that I read this chapter mainly for content, seeing some connections to Jazz and Purgatorio; I think it’s safe to say that mentions of the Great Migrations naturally make my brain think to the concept of movement in both Dante and Morrison’s works. Besides that, however, I can’t say that I have any concrete connections– then again it’s only chapter 1. Read more