An immensely persuasive work of literary criticism that opens a new chapter in the American dialogue on race — and promises to change the way we read American literature. Morrison shows how much the themes of freedom and individualism, manhood and innocence, depended on the existence of a black population that was manifestly unfree—and that came to serve white authors as embodiments of their own fears and desires. According to the Chicago Tribune, Morrison "reimagines and remaps the possibility of America." Her brilliant discussions of the "Africanist" presence in the fiction of Poe, Melville, Cather, and Hemingway leads to a dramatic reappraisal of the essential characteristics of our literary tradition. Written with the artistic vision that has earned the Nobel Prize-winning author a pre-eminent place in modern letters, Playing in the Dark is an invaluable read for avid Morrison admirers as well as students, critics, and scholars of American literature.