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Beloved Paperback – Unabridged, June 8, 2004
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“A masterwork. . . . Wonderful. . . . I can’t imagine American literature without it.” —John Leonard, Los Angeles Times
“A triumph.” —Margaret Atwood, The New York Times Book Review
“Toni Morrison’s finest work. . . . [It] sets her apart [and] displays her prodigious talent.” —Chicago Sun-Times
“Dazzling. . . . Magical. . . . An extraordinary work.” —The New York Times
“A masterpiece. . . . Magnificent. . . . Astounding. . . . Overpowering.” —Newsweek
“Brilliant. . . . Resonates from past to present.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“A brutally powerful, mesmerizing story. . . . Read it and tremble.” —People
“Toni Morrison is not just an important contemporary novelist but a major figure in our national literature.” —New York Review of Books
“A work of genuine force. . . . Beautifully written.” —The Washington Post
“There is something great in Beloved: a play of human voices, consciously exalted, perversely stressed, yet holding true. It gets you.” —The New Yorker
“A magnificent heroine . . . a glorious book.” —The Baltimore Sun
“Superb. . . . A profound and shattering story that carries the weight of history. . . . Exquisitely told.” —Cosmopolitan
“Magical . . . rich, provocative, extremely satisfying.” —Milwaukee Journal
“Beautifully written. . . . Powerful. . . . Toni Morrison has become one of America’s finest novelists.” —The Plain Dealer
“Stunning. . . A lasting achievement.” —The Christian Science Monitor
“Written with a force rarely seen in contemporary fiction. . . . One feels deep admiration.” —USA Today
“Compelling . . . . Morrison shakes that brilliant kaleidoscope of hers again, and the story of pain, endurance, poetry and power she is born to tell comes right out.” —The Village Voice
“A book worth many rereadings.” —Glamour
“In her most probing novel, Toni Morrison has demonstrated once again the stunning powers that place her in the first ranks of our living novelists.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Heart-wrenching . . . mesmerizing.” —The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Shattering emotional power and impact.” —New York Daily News
“A rich, mythical novel . . . a triumph.” —St. Petersburg Times
“Powerful . . . voluptuous.” —New York
From the Inside Flap
Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe's new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved" is a towering achievement.
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Sethe didn’t succeed at killing all of her children for she only killed one, her baby girl soon known as Beloved. After Sethe’s two sons ran away, the house, 124 Bluestone Road, was only home to Sethe, Denver (her fourth child), and the ghost of the baby girl. Morrison uses the ghost to act as the physical burden of the past has on Sethe and her daughter’s life calling the house it haunted “spiteful” and [f]ull of a baby’s venom.” With the character Beloved, Morrison explores one of the novel’s central themes: how can a human being move past the most horrific memories of slavery. In this case, Sethe must not only overcome slavery’s violence on her body but also the overwhelming trauma that comes from killing one’s own baby to prevent her from experiencing the same violence Sethe endured. Morrison utilizes the ghost as constant and haunting reminder of Sethe’s actions and slavery’s imprint on the body and mind. Rather than creating an intangible set of painful memories, Beloved is a tangible and “spiteful” reminder of Sethe’s actions. She is not allowed to forget the past. Her daughter slowly drains the life away from Sethe: starving her and turning her eyes “bright but dead.” Yet, Morrison notes that anything “dead coming back to life hurts" and that, in order for Sethe to live a life outside of slavery, she must overcome the act of killing because “it left her no room to imagine, let alone plan for, the next day.” Ultimately, Beloved and the act of killing is not something that should be relived and remembered; rather, Morrison seems to suggest that it should be “disremembered.” This was “not a story to pass on”. Instead, Sethe must move on. The past is too ugly and the scars on her back are too profound.
Of course, we can’t all relate to the horrific pain that Sethe must endure in her life. Yet, trauma and the memories embedded in trauma are real for so many of us. From soldiers returning from Iraq or Afghanistan or Somalia or Syria or any number of frightening conflicts to women who are still too often victims of sexual violence, we have to find ways to overcome the pain and discover ways to live. The novel Beloved is a magical, horrific, beautiful and ugly story of death, extreme love, slavery, and redemption that touches on our most powerful emotions: familial love, overwhelming anger, deepest regret, and the yearning for peace. This is why I give Beloved FIVE STARS.
The house is haunted by the ghost of Sethe's 2 year old unnamed baby, simply known as Beloved. The haunting is severe and poltergeist-like, Beloved throws things, the house rattles and shakes, yet Sethe refuses to leave. No one visits Sethe and Denver, they don't want to go near the house, everyone knows it is haunted.
One day, an old acquaintance of Sethe's, a man named Paul D, shows up at her doorstep. The two become involved right away. Paul D knew Sethe years ago when she was first married and lived on a plantation before they were freed. He is happy to reconnect with her all these years later.
Not shortly after, a woman shows up in front of Sethe's home. Something about her is different, she can't talk much, is very sleepy and her skin is baby soft. When asked her name, she simply spells out the word, 'Beloved'.
Sethe lets Beloved into her home, gives her a place to sleep and takes her in for the time being. The family just figures she is a wanderer with no place to go. Beloved soon becomes obsessed with Sethe, and Sethe herself thinks of Beloved as her own child.
So many scenes stood out for me. One part in particular is when Denver walks in on her mother kneeling by her bed, praying, and sees a baby's white dress next to her, hugging Sethe around her waist. Just the thought of how this baby ghost still clings to her mother, and how even in death, mother and child are forever connected, gave me chills while reading.
Several scenes in this book also shocked me. If you've read this one, you know what I mean. As shocking as it was, I did enjoy this read. The characters are well written, the plot was excellent, the writing was fantastic and I found myself not wanting to put this book down. This is the kind of book that once you are done reading, you kind of just sit back and think about it. It's the kind of read you want to discuss.