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Beloved Paperback – Jan 1997

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Longman Publishing Group (January 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080133148X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801331480
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 11.4 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (536 customer reviews)

Product Description

From Amazon

In the troubled years following the Civil War, the spirit of a murdered child haunts the Ohio home of a former slave. This angry, destructive ghost breaks mirrors, leaves its fingerprints in cake icing, and generally makes life difficult for Sethe and her family; nevertheless, the woman finds the haunting oddly comforting for the spirit is that of her own dead baby, never named, thought of only as Beloved.

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

Set in post-Civil War Ohio, this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel concerns a runaway slave and her daughter, whose lives are disrupted by a former slave, a spirit and a woman named Beloved. According to PW, this "brilliantly conceived story . . . should not be missed."
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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124 WAS SPITEFUL. Full of a baby's venom. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazonbombshell on Jan. 19 2002
Format: Paperback
In certain circles, I have been silently (or not) awarded the status of spoiled literary ignoramus for expressing my opinion of this book. That said, literature is one of my passions, and I'm willing to risk ridicule again to warn those of you who may appreciate the heads-up.
I first read BELOVED as part of a literature class, and I was at first excited because I had never read anything by Toni Morrison before and had heard her books widely praised. Then I started reading it, and I thought it would never end.
I admit, it was the writing style that turned me off. There are many who laud Ms. Morrison's "ingenious" and "lyrical" prose, but I tend to find stream-of-conciousness writing confusing, annoying, and in many cases, as in this one, unnecessary. I find that it disrupts the story, and I like my stories to make sense. The effort involved in piecing together Morrison's story from the fragmented, dislocated chapters in which it is written is monumental. I usually don't stick around with books like that to find out if the end result was worth the effort, but with this one, I had no choice. Expecting nothing more, still I was sorely disappointed when I found that it was not. The story line has the potential for great power, but somewhere along the line it was mishandled and mangled beyond recognition.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Jan. 25 1998
Format: Paperback
I HATE this book. Although technically well-written, in a lush imagistic style, its main character Sethe utterly disgusts me. She goes on and on, telling the reader irrelevant and sickening detail about her brutal life as a slave, while focusing on the most meaningless, useless, STUPID details in the present. Some of the supporting characters are no better. Do I really want to read about sex crimes on cows? NO!! This novel has all the finesse of a blind brachiosaur ramapaging through a china market; I threw it down in utter disgust by chapter. Its characters fail to gain any sympathy whatsoever from I, the reader, simply because their motivations are so petty, inconsequential, their observation so niggling and obsessive, their whole beings and selves STUPID and IGNORANT. This novel deserves to have a rating of -3 but unfortunately the scale doesn't go that low. As for the writer, she should have her prize taken away. Make that all her prizes!
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Format: Paperback
This is not a story to pass on. At least, that's the refrain of this dark tale of life after slavery. It really is a story that should be passed on, because it seems as though we've forgotten the horrifying brutality of slavery in America. If the novel ends by saying that this is not a story to pass on, it begins by dedicating itself to the "sixty million and more" black slaves brought across from Africa, a few million of whom died on the journey across. Many stories of freedom focus on the stiff upper lips, the singing in the fields, the heads held high against all adversity, despite every misfortune thrown against them, and the awaiting of a brighter future.

Morrison's story is much darker than these. She focuses on the rape, the murder of children, the demeaning treatment of men and women alike, the comparison of slaves to animals and the horrible living conditions. Her characters deal with the trauma from being treated like they weren't human beings. They are bred like animals. They lose their "offspring" to their oppressors. These characters learn their worth in dollars, giving them no control over where they will go or what demeaning work will be forced upon them. To love is to risk losing the beloved. Even twenty years after the abolishment of slaves, Sethe still has to ask, "Would it be all right? Would it be all right to go ahead and feel? Go ahead and count on something?"

Beloved can be read as a ghost-story (though by no means a straight-forward one) or a psychological thriller. Something is haunting Sethe, and whether the ghost of her baby or the guilt for her own actions, the haunting is spiteful and venomous. This is a story about the trauma of the past living on in the present, and it is, in fact, a story to pass on, it's just not a story to carry around in your heart, letting it's trauma cause you pain. The tragedy of Beloved is that if you could just let it all go there's so much in the world of freedom to live for.
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Format: Paperback
This novel is a religious experience, derived from the Exodus of the Hebrew Bible (deliverance from slavery), the miracle healing stories of the Christian Gospels, the Book of Revelations (the "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse") and African spirituality. The escaped slaves, Sethe and Paul D, and Sethe's daughter, Denver, get healed from the lasting trauma of slavery, including Sethe's murder of her second-youngest child, Beloved, a murder committed out of love, to prevent Beloved being taken into slavery. In the process of this healing a ghost-made-flesh (Beloved) has sex and gets pregnant. What I loved about this book are Morrison's characters, whom I felt I knew; Morrison's honesty and compassion, and the absolutely gorgeous writing, especially the passages describing the countryside. At the same time, I sometimes felt slightly manipulated, the kind of awkward feeling I get watching talk-show interviews about "important issues." The material is profound and moving, but the presentation at times a little canned. This is only a tiny criticism. Overall, I think, the book is a masterpiece. The subject matter, spiritual liberation from slavery, has a universal message.
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