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Beloved (Everyman's Library) Hardcover – October 17, 2006
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A dead child, a runaway slave, a terrible secret--these are the central concerns of Toni Morrison's Pulitzer Prize-winning Beloved. Morrison, a Nobel laureate, has written many fine novels, including Song of Solomon, The Bluest Eye, and Paradise--but Beloved is arguably her best. To modern readers, antebellum slavery is a subject so familiar that it is almost impossible to render its horrors in a way that seems neither clichéd nor melodramatic. Rapes, beatings, murders, and mutilations are recounted here, but they belong to characters so precisely drawn that the tragedy remains individual, terrifying to us because it is terrifying to the sufferer. And Morrison is master of the telling detail: in the bit, for example, a punishing piece of headgear used to discipline recalcitrant slaves, she manages to encapsulate all of slavery's many cruelties into one apt symbol--a device that deprives its wearer of speech. "Days after it was taken out, goose fat was rubbed on the corners of the mouth but nothing to soothe the tongue or take the wildness out of the eye." Most importantly, the language here, while often lyrical, is never overheated. Even as she recalls the cruelties visited upon her while a slave, Sethe is evocative without being overemotional: "Add my husband to it, watching, above me in the loft--hiding close by--the one place he thought no one would look for him, looking down on what I couldn't look at at all. And not stopping them--looking and letting it happen.... And if he was that broken then, then he is also and certainly dead now." Even the supernatural is treated as an ordinary fact of life: "Not a house in the country ain't packed to its rafters with some dead Negro's grief. We lucky this ghost is a baby," comments Sethe's mother-in-law.
Beloved is a dense, complex novel that yields up its secrets one by one. As Morrison takes us deeper into Sethe's history and her memories, the horrifying circumstances of her baby's death start to make terrible sense. And as past meets present in the shape of a mysterious young woman about the same age as Sethe's daughter would have been, the narrative builds inexorably to its powerful, painful conclusion. Beloved may well be the defining novel of slavery in America, the one that all others will be measured by. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Nobel Prize-winner Toni Morrison is considered one of America's finest novelists for her profound and provocative works of fiction. Visit Amazon's Toni Morrison Page.
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Top Customer Reviews
As the novel opens, Sethe and Denver have lived in #124, a house in Ohio, for eighteen years, refusing to socialize and enjoying no company. When Paul D. Garner, one of the Sweet Home men and a friend of her long-missing husband, arrives on her doorstep and moves in, Sethe slowly reveals her long-buried nightmares, and the two share their stories of the events leading up to their escape. Most haunting to Sethe is the death of her young daughter Beloved, shortly after the escape from the farm, though the reader does not know for many pages the shocking manner of her death. When a ghostly figure who calls herself Beloved arrives at #124, shortly after Paul D., Morrison creates mystery and a heart-stoppingly tense atmosphere when Beloved moves in. As Beloved gradually takes over the household and seems to demand and then possess Sethe's soul, the sorrow which has burdened Sethe seems close to breaking her.Read more ›
The writing is craftful and the imagery masterful. The depiction of slavery and its malevolent effects on everyone is poignant and convincing without ever being maudlin or preachy. What could have been a sad tearjerker is much too real, too convincing, calloused over with the hardness that the characters are forced to develop when everything they love, from their spouses to their children are beaten, raped, taken away, or killed at the whim of the whiteman.
But while I can appreciate the story, the structure, and the way it was written, I found it extremely tedious to read. It hangs on the thinnest of narrative thread, and whenever a plot threatens to develop, the scene ends and we find out what happened later as an aside. Most of the 275 pages are dense interior monologues, frequently repetitious, that sometimes degenerates into what seemed like random text.
The characters are drawn with detail, each distinctive and real. I feel I could recognize them on the street if one walked past. But they are as closed to us as they are to themselves. While they evoke my sympathy, they never gain my empathy. We study them, we hear them, we even feel them, but we never are them.
As an epic prose/poem, Beloved is amazingly successful. Its images are strong and convincing. As a novel, it's a long, tedious read with no payoff. I would recommend Beloved to someone who enjoys poetry. For someone looking for a story, even a difficult one, there are many far more readable.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The most poetic book I've ever read. Sometimes the words were so abstract they were hard to follow, but even that confusion caused a feeling, I believe was intended by the author.Published 3 days ago by Cara L Unterkofler
I've read African-American lit before, obviously...Native Son, The Color Purple, and Their Eyes Were Watching God, The Bluest Eye, 12 Years A Slave. Read morePublished 6 days ago by 500 Books
This book is a horror book. The first chapter start off as a violent ghost haunting the house and the family. Read morePublished 11 days ago by Amazon Customer
This is an American Classic about the lives of several former slaves and the impact that slavery had upon them. The author won the Nobel Prize for literature for this work.Published 11 days ago by Daniel R. Wells
This book is ridiculous. In order to gain anything from it, it is absolutely necessary to make abstract connection between small details throughout the book. Read morePublished 17 days ago by Nick
Toni Morrison is magnificent, and this book is a prime example of her stunning talent. Some of the paragraphs were long winded and a little overwhelming, but overall this was just... Read morePublished 19 days ago by Ruyi Cheng
i had to keep my eyes glued for this one but after two times i got it loved the dislogPublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Toni Morrison is a great writer. She uses very words beautifully, but also makes them into deep thinking. Not always my favorite.Published 1 month ago by Duvall