Song of Solomon/Sula

If you view these two Toni Morrison novels from a psychoanalytic perspective, an interesting distinction emerges. Song of Solomon, despite the everyday characters navigating everyday minefields, is essentially Jungian, an archetypal quest narrative, albeit one played out in the local coordinates of African-American culture, with other archetypal struggles about identity and authority and duality turning within that larger wheel. Sula is essentially Freudian, focused on deeply personal relationships of family, love, friendship, lives spent sorting out these domestic emotions, with small incidents from the past erupting in memory again and again until they punctuate and define one’s whole adult life. Both great books, but (for reasons unrelated to Freud versus Jung) for me Song of Solomon beats out Sula and the more famous Beloved as the novel in which Morrison best finds her own voice and as perhaps one of the five or six best novels in English.