The Bluest Eye Critical Overview - Essay

Toni Morrison

Critical Overview

(Novels for Students)

The Bluest Eye received an appreciative nod from critics at its appearance in 1970. Although Morrison was virtually unknown at the time, she seems to have taken offense at what she perceived as neglect of the book, for 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." Clearly, however, as Morrison's reputation as an author has grown, The Bluest Eye has received increased recognition and respect as a poignant portrayal of a black girl trapped by white society's ideals.

One aspect of the book that caught critical attention at the book's publication and continues to be a focal point for critics of Morrison's work is her use of language, which is often referred to as "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."

Like many readers, critics seemed disturbed by the book's content, not because it was irrelevant or trivial but because, as Liz Gant wrote in Black World, it is about "an aspect of the Black...

(The entire section is 581 words.)