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The Bluest Eye: A Novel [Hardcover]

Toni Morrison
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (425 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 1970
The Bluest Eye, published in 1970, is the first novel written by Toni Morrison, winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature.

It is the story of eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove--a black girl in an America whose love for its blond, blue-eyed children can devastate all others--who prays for her eyes to turn blue: so that she will be beautiful, so that people will look at her, so that her world will be different. This is the story of the nightmare at the heart of her yearning and the tragedy of its fulfillment.
--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Oprah Book Club® Selection, April 2000: Originally published in 1970, The Bluest Eye is Toni Morrison's first novel. In an afterword written more than two decades later, the author expressed her dissatisfaction with the book's language and structure: "It required a sophistication unavailable to me." Perhaps we can chalk up this verdict to modesty, or to the Nobel laureate's impossibly high standards of quality control. In any case, her debut is nothing if not sophisticated, in terms of both narrative ingenuity and rhetorical sweep. It also shows the young author drawing a bead on the subjects that would dominate much of her career: racial hatred, historical memory, and the dazzling or degrading power of language itself.

Set in Lorain, Ohio, in 1941, The Bluest Eye is something of an ensemble piece. The point of view is passed like a baton from one character to the next, with Morrison's own voice functioning as a kind of gold standard throughout. The focus, though, is on an 11-year-old black girl named Pecola Breedlove, whose entire family has been given a cosmetic cross to bear:

You looked at them and wondered why they were so ugly; you looked closely and could not find the source. Then you realized that it came from conviction, their conviction. It was as though some mysterious all-knowing master had given each one a cloak of ugliness to wear, and they had each accepted it without question.... And they took the ugliness in their hands, threw it as a mantle over them, and went about the world with it.
There are far uglier things in the world than, well, ugliness, and poor Pecola is subjected to most of them. She's spat upon, ridiculed, and ultimately raped and impregnated by her own father. No wonder she yearns to be the very opposite of what she is--yearns, in other words, to be a white child, possessed of the blondest hair and the bluest eye.

This vein of self-hatred is exactly what keeps Morrison's novel from devolving into a cut-and-dried scenario of victimization. She may in fact pin too much of the blame on the beauty myth: "Along with the idea of romantic love, she was introduced to another--physical beauty. Probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought. Both originated in envy, thrived in insecurity, and ended in disillusion." Yet the destructive power of these ideas is essentially colorblind, which gives The Bluest Eye the sort of universal reach that Morrison's imitators can only dream of. And that, combined with the novel's modulated pathos and musical, fine-grained language, makes for not merely a sophisticated debut but a permanent one. --James Marcus --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

To commemorate Morrison's winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, Knopf here republishes her full canon of novels. This edition of The Bluest Eye (1970) contains a new afterword by the author. The boxed set also includes The Bluest Eye, along with Sula (1974), Song of Solomon (1977), Tar Baby (1981), Beloved (1987), and Jazz (1992). If your originals are shot, the boxed set is an easy way to replace them all.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I'm not normally one for anything but a bestseller, tending to stick with things like "Da Vinci Code" or "Bark of the Dogwood," but lately I've been veering off into what is unchartered territory for me. "The bluest Eye" is one such example. Brought to life by Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye is an extremely powerful story that tackles some of the difficult challenges people face to this day. I thought the tale was an unforgettable one. Toni Morrison uses just enough detail to let The Bluest Eye stick out in a person's mind for a lifetime. The way the author writes allows a person to understand things very clearly. The Bluest Eye is the story of Pecola Breedlove, a very unfortunate looking, young black girl living in Ohio in the early 1900's. Pecola's one main wish in life is to have blue eyes, hence the title of the book. She spends her entire childhood praying for these blue eyes so she may look like Shirley Temple and the other blonde haired, blue eyed, white girls in school. Throughout the story, are small tales of Pecola's family past, and explanations of why her life is so horrible. The various tales are written in block form, though, and therefore are very easily distinguishable from one another. As I read this book, I was saddened by the horrific events that this poor girl has to encounter, and shocked by the way people treated African American girls in the past. This story relates to many problems teenagers, adults and children still have now days in our society. Racism, family problems and loving your heritage are highly discussed issues in this book.
I would recommend The Bluest Eye to anyone interested in reading books that tell true life stories. Though I thoroughly enjoyed this book, not everyone will.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This book did not fulfill my expectations... April 25 2004
Format:Paperback
The theme of racial discrimination between Blacks and Whites in America is often issued by authors but their texts seldom contain such a violent brutality.
Toni Morrison describes a young black girl named Pecola that grows up in the lowest social class in the society at that time. Her family situation underlines the cliché of dirty black people: Her father is an alcoholic that beats his wife who works for a white rich family and seems to love their blond, cute, curly haired girl more than her own children.
As a consequence Pecola does not find her place in the world and feels because of her outer appearance disliked. The fact that she gets raped by his father and her wish of blue eyes to be beloved by the adults concludes a girl that goes mad in the end.
Toni Morrison uses a very colloquial language that is at first for me, as my mother language is not english, difficult to understand but second I also do not like this style of writing. In my opinion, there are too many violent and even pornographic scenes for example when Pecolas father sleeps for the first time with a girl or when she gets raped. This is only disgusting and these explicit describtions are not necessary to underline the message the author wants to make.
Obviously, this book is important for black literatur but for me it was not very interesting to read. It is just nearly the same as in all books containing the black/white conflict where the Whites are the bad boys and the Blacks have to suffer under them. Even Pecolas father who is so cruel to his environment behaves only like that because he is made by the Whites to the person he is.
I had high expectations before I read this novel because of the Nobel Prize of Literature it won but unfortunately they did not get fulfilled.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a 3 star writer Nov. 12 2003
Format:Paperback
is the best way to describe Toni Morrison. She's not a bad writer, but not really good either. On a scale of 1-100 I'd rate her about a 65-75 depending on the novel. I'd give this one about a 70. Perhaps this is because I've never been able to finish one of her books. I've tried and tried but I just can't do it. She has some lovely poetic phrasings and nice descriptions, but a Nobel winner? Pulleeze! The best way I can think to describe her style of writing and her characters- it's like watching beautiful descriptions of people from a distance, like through glass that is slightly opaque- because I've never gotten a sense of anyone from her books. Never have they wanted to walk off the page for me. I tried reading her latest, "Love" & only got to page 15. I'm surprised I did not drown sooner in the description. That is why I didn't even bother reviewing it- it wouldn't have been fair. Maybe someday I'll be able to read one of her books from cover to cover, but for now she's just a black Danielle Steel with a more poetic bend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Powerfully depressing Oct. 25 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I have seldom felt as depressed as I did the day I finished reading "The Bluest Eye"; not because I was sad it was finished, but because it is simply an overwhelmingly depressing book. So, if you are fond of books that make you feel this way, you will love it. Personally I hated it for this reason, but I give it an extra star because at least it made me feel at all.
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4.0 out of 5 stars This book was so heartbreaking May 28 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison is a book about an African American girl named Pecola Breedlove who believes that she is the ugliest girl in the world, and is treated as such. This book is set in 1941, and cute little Shirley Temple is what America is in love with. Pecola believes that the only way anyone can be beautiful is if he or she had blonde hair and blue eyes. Pecola wishes that her eyes would turn so blue that anytime someone walked past her, they would look at how beautiful she is. Toni Morrison takes the depressing thought that beauty is blonde hair and blue eyes, and gives it a cruel and tragic twist. She introduces you to where Pecola is now, and goes back through her life, the life of her mother, and the life of her father. She reveals the dark side to the readers in just little enough amounts that you can't guess what is going to happen next, making you read the next chapter just to find out what else the book might reveal. This made the book so exciting to read with twists and turns around every page. The way Morrison describes everything, it's like watching a movie, without the sticky floors and talking people. Over all, this was an exciting book to read. The plot is so unique that it immediately catches your eye, and keeps your attention throughout the whole book.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Hauntingly Beautiful
A tough read to be sure, but an amazing one. As moving and as poignant as Morrison's other highly acclaimed works The Bluest Eye is a must read for anyone interested in the topics... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Jasmin
5.0 out of 5 stars nomadmama
I am so glad I read this book again. It is really easy to understand why it was and is such a phenomenal work. Read more
Published on July 23 2012 by nomadmama
4.0 out of 5 stars Tough truth
Eleven year olds shouldn't have a care in the world. They should be free to play and dream. Life never was like that for Pecola Breedlove. Read more
Published on Feb. 18 2011 by Heather Pearson
3.0 out of 5 stars Brutal, Sad Story
This is a brutal, sad story. On the surface it is the story of being black and poor in the forties. It is also a story of rape, incest, racism, and self-loathing. Read more
Published on Nov. 8 2008 by Nicola Mansfield
1.0 out of 5 stars Nobel Prize Selectors ... for Shame
I will give you the basic premise of the book:
Whites=bad
Blacks=good
I have saved you however long it may have taken you to read that. Read more
Published on July 29 2005
5.0 out of 5 stars A patch of blue
This story is about a young African-American girl, Pecola Breedlove, who has a very hard childhood. She is an outcast in school, her parents don't care for her, and she is all... Read more
Published on March 11 2005 by BethDeHart
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic - a work of art!
I originally picked up this book by fluke. I was searching for a fiction novel to use for an English essay and decided to venture outside the suggested reading list - comprised of... Read more
Published on Nov. 7 2004 by ophelia
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
I was a little shocked to see how well THE BLUEST EYE is selling. This, because it's one of the most beautiful and profound pieces of literature on the planet and most people want... Read more
Published on Sept. 30 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-written, extremely depressing subject
After reading this book twice, once for a school assignment and once for my own pleasure, it successfully depressed me enough both times so I won't read it again. Read more
Published on June 29 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars sad but beautiful stroy
i read the book "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison and was both enchanted and devestaded with every paragraph of this sad story. I enjoyed this book very much. Read more
Published on June 1 2004 by Bridgete Moody
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