Toni Morrison on Story Telling and Empathy

In this PBS video from 1977, WTTW host John Calloway interviews Toni Morrison about her novel, “Song of Solomon“. At the time of the interview, Morrison reflected that the writing of her book, “Song of Solomon”, had to be told by a set of characters she had yet explored, men. She understood that in order to tell the story correctly, she had to be empathetic to a gender she had previously feared writing about.

“But this book, because it was about both freedom and escape and abandonment and triumph, had to be about men. It was an enormous difference for me, huge differences. I’ve never really tried to become that intimate with a character, a man, to try to feel what it was really like, to think about dominion, power. Those kinds of things are alien to me, in a way. Although I’ve done sketches of men, I’ve been a little fearful of going rather deeply inside.”

Through storytelling, one has the ability to explore foreign perspectives and points of view. This exploratory and artistic act allows one to create empathy for the previously unknown.

Notes: This video was discovered and shared with Empathy Lab by Theresa Ward. Thank you Theresa for this wonderful share and the newfound thread of empathy through literature that it brings. Also, at the time of this post, I have not read, “Song of Solomon”. That being said, it is on my list of books to read very soon. – Shelton

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