When Bill Gass introduced Toni Morrison

'The old roar of the great work'

William Gass and Toni Morrison at Washington University in 1991. (Photo: Washington University Archives)

Toni Morrison, who died Aug. 5 at the age of 88, was among the most powerful, popular and influential writers of her generation. Introducing her to a packed Graham Chapel in 1991, Washington University in St. Louis author extraordinaire William Gass declared that “Beloved,” which had won the Pulitzer Prize three years earlier, “has the old roar of the great work, back in the days when great works roared.”

Continued Gass, an influential writer of his generation and the David May Distinguished University Professor Emeritus in the Humanities: “Toni’s book brings us back, without being the least backward-looking, to the good old great days of the novel, when novels were written with heat and often in a rage, with a rich sweep of history articulated by a deep appreciation of detail, of the way in which human pain and passion and persistence linger in kitchens and curtains, stiffen pillows and sog boards, haunt lives and houses, hang themselves in our guilt heads.”

Read the full introduction here; click on the text on the right-hand side.

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