What's the critical view on "The Bluest Eye" by Morrison?

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The Bluest Eye is considered to be one of Toni Morrison's finest achievements. At the time it was written, it received somewhat mixed reviews. While the majority of the reviews could technically be described as favorable, Morrison felt much of the commentary on the novel revealed a critical misunderstanding, and even trivialization, of her work. In a history of women's literature in America, scholar Elaine Showalter explains: "[The Bluest Eye] combines sophisticated symbolism and literary craft with a clear, strongly plotted, and heartbreaking story. It was, however, too sophisticated for its first reviewers and readers." Today the book is lauded for it's rich prose and for the remarkable empathy and compassion in Morrison's treatment of each of her subjects, even Cholly, who is guilty of monstrous transgressions against his family. Morrison's lyrical prose and compassionate orientation has become emblematic of her body of work as a whole.

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"The Bluest Eye" was Morrison's first novel and it was positively reviewed when it was published in 1970. One of the things critics noticed was Morrison's unusual use of language, which is often dubbed "poetic prose"".John Leonard of The New York Times described the novel as containing "a prose so precise, so faithful to speech and so charged with pain and wonder that the novel becomes poetry." However, others, such as New York Times Book Review contributor Haskel Frankel, described Morrison's prose not as poetic but as inexact, marred by "fuzziness born of flights of poetic imagery." Morrison herself was not happy with the way critics received her first novel. She she "wrote in the afterword to a 1993 edition of the novel, 'With very few exceptions, the initial publication of "The Bluest Eye" was like Pecola's life: dismissed, trivialized, misread."'
Since the publication of that book, Morrison has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her 1988 novel, "Beloved" and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. Reviews written about the book today still concentrate on Morrison's writing style and how the novel depicts black "victimization" in this country.

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