Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination

Toni Morrison
Published in 1992
by Harvard University Press

“I intend to outline an attractive, fruitful, and provocative critical project, unencumbered by dreams of subversion or rallying gestures at fortress walls,” declares Toni Morrison in the first of three essays included in this iconic critical text dissecting the “Africanist” presence that exists throughout classic American literature. Morrison’s examinations argue that the themes of individualism and freedom in the works of authors such as Cather, Hemingway, Melville, and Poe would not be possible without the enslavement of African Americans, dispelling preconceived notions about literary tradition and encouraging readers to think and read beyond the confines of American literature. Morrison creates an instant classic that sets out to sharpen the imagination and toolset for anyone to carry into the act of reading, writing, and living. 


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