Liberation Story or Apocalypse? Reading Biblical Allusion and Bakhtin theory in Toni Morrison’s Beloved

Bula Maddison


This paper discusses the workings of biblical allusion in Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved in the context of Bakhtin’s thought. Principal aims are to show something of how the literary device of allusion fits into Bakhtin theory and, at the same time, to show how Morrison has incorporated the Bible into her work. The paper proposes that she writes and rewrites the Bible in interaction with other language-worlds of the novel – most notably, the historical slave narrative and the African spirit-world. It develops the notion of a hybrid chronotope in the novel based on the intersection of the biblical apocalypse with the ‘rememory’ of African cosmology. The paper represents an extension of Bakhtin theory in proposing allusion as a device for dialogisation.


Toni Morrison; Bakhtin; Bible

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Bible and Critical Theory: ISSN 1832-3391