Journal of African American Studies

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 363–371 | Cite as

The Composing Mode of Jazz Music in Morrison’s Jazz

Toni Morrison. Jazz. (New York: Vintage, 1992, Rpt. 2004) Pp. xv-229. ISBN: 1-4000-7621-8
  • Sima FarshidEmail author
Book Review


The most discernible innovation of Toni Morrison's Jazz is its linguistic and structural resemblance to the jazz music. In an apparently difficult practice, Morrison has tried to blur the distinctions between literature and music, the printed and the heard, the visual and the aural by creating a kind of music in her written text and by employing jazz techniques. To engender a musical language, she “plays” her narrative with the inherent rhythm of her alliterated sentences via which she creates an internal music in the text. Moreover she has structured her Jazz upon the composing mode of the jazz that is based on the spontaneity and improvisation of musicians who execute the double role of composer/performer and whose personality contributes to their improvised composition the “takeoff point” of which is a melody that serves as the initiating point on which the musicians maneuver.

As the melody of jazz is gradually unraveled by performers who “play against each other”, each...


  1. Gates, H. L. Jr. (1993). Review of Jazz, by Toni Morrison. In: Gates H, K. A. Appiah (Eds.), Toni Morrison: Critical perspectives past and present (pp. 52–55). New York: Amistad.Google Scholar
  2. Mayberry, K. J. (2000). “The problem of narrative in Toni Morrison's Jazz”. In: Middleton (Ed.), Toni Morrison's Fiction (pp. 297–309). New York: GarlandGoogle Scholar
  3. Middleton, D. L. (Ed.). (2000). Toni Morrison's fiction: Contemporary criticism. New York: Garland.Google Scholar
  4. Morrison, T. (1984). Rootedness: Ancestor as foundation. In M. Evans (Ed.), Black women writers (1950–1980): A critical evaluation (pp. 339–345). Garden City: Anchor.Google Scholar
  5. Morrison, T. (1992). Jazz. New York: Vintage. rpt. 2004.Google Scholar
  6. Morrison, T. (1993). Toni Morrison: The art of fiction', interview with Elissa Schappell and Claudia Brodsky Lacour. Paris Review, 128, 83–125.Google Scholar
  7. Page, P. (1995). Traces of Derrida in Toni Morrison's Jazz. African American Review, 29(1), 55–66. Spring.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Peach, L. (2000). Toni Morrison. New York: St. Martin's Press.Google Scholar
  9. Peterson, N. J. (Ed.). (1993). Toni Morrison: Critical and theoretical approaches. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins UP. rpt. 1997.Google Scholar
  10. Peterson, N. J. (1993). Say make me, remake me: Toni Morrison and the reconstruction of African-American History. In: Peterson (Ed.), Toni Morrison (pp. 201–221). Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins UPGoogle Scholar
  11. Rodrigues, E. L. (1993). Experiencing Jazz. In: Peterson (Ed.), Toni Morrison (pp. 245–266). Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins UPGoogle Scholar
  12. Ruas, C. (1985). “Toni Morrison” (interview). In Ruas (Ed.), Conversations with American Writers (pp. 215–243). New York: Knopf.Google Scholar
  13. Southern, E. (1983). The music of Black Americans. New York: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
  14. Stave, S. A. (2007). Jazz and Paradise: Pivotal moments in black history”. In: Tally (Ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Toni Morrison (pp. 59–74). Cambridge: Cambridge UPGoogle Scholar
  15. Tally, J. (Ed.). (2007). The Cambridge Companion to Toni Morrison. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.Google Scholar
  16. Tally, J. The Morrison trilogy. In: Tally (Ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Toni Morrison (pp. 75–91). Cambridge: Cambridge UPGoogle Scholar
  17. Tate, C. (1986). On Black Literary Women and the Evolution of Critical Discourse. Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature, 5, 111–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.English DepartmentKaraj Branch, Islamic Azad UniversityKarajIran

Personalised recommendations