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Toni Morrison and the Classical TraditionTransforming American Culture$
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Tessa Roynon

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199698684

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199698684.001.0001

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Discovery, Conquest, and Settlement

Discovery, Conquest, and Settlement

(p.28) 1 Discovery, Conquest, and Settlement
Toni Morrison and the Classical Tradition

Tessa Roynon

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that Morrison's engagement with the classical tradition in Tar Baby and Love enables her revisionary perspective on European constructions of America's origins. It demonstrates that through engagement with Ovid's Metamorphoses, Ovid's Fasti, in particular with the myth of Prosperpina/Kore and the legend of Lucretia, the novelist challenges mythologized accounts of America's discovery and early settlement by Europeans as a glorious act of sexual conquest or rape. It also addresses Morrison's dialogue with prior American writing that deploy the classical tradition and/or the metaphor of rape to glamorize European colonization: from the discovery narratives and George Sandys's Metamorphosis (1632) to the work of William Carlos Williams.

Keywords:   Tar Baby, Love, discovery, conquest, rape, sexual, Ovid, George Sandys, William Carlos Williams

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