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Beloved Paperback – Jan 1997

3.9 out of 5 stars 541 customer reviews

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Paperback, Jan 1997
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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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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 541 customer reviews
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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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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on Dec 10 1999
Format: Paperback
Ghosts, slavery, murder, and a woman battling her past. Toni Morrison ties all of these elements together into the mosaic called Beloved. Morrison's work flourishes with literary techniques that bring the story to life, but occasionally throw the reader into a spiraling confusion because of its occasional anachronisms and chronological imbalances. The intertwining story gets under your skin and tempts you to ponder thoughts and issues Morrison illustrates through factors such as symbolism or her own personal style. Brilliantly written, Morrison unveils the life of Sethe, a woman haunted by her past of slavery, hardship, and murder. Ohio, plagued by post-civil war corruption and graft, is where Sethe tries to raise the remainder of her family in 124, a structure haunted by the ghost of her child. The child whose throat she slit in order to prevent her from enduring the same torture of slavery, the child for whom she exchanged ten minutes of sex to give a decent title on her grave stone, the child who comes back to poison and corrode Sethe's own being and destroy her hope. Symbolism erupts in constant allusions to Sethe's enslaving past and her memories of the trials she endured. Just the simple task of describing Sethe's wedding dress becomes a maze of symbolism to the difficulties of the past. Sethe, determined to have a different dress on her wedding day, searches for scraps of fabric which could be borrowed to creatively construct a dress that only would have to be taken apart and later returned. "Now the back was a problem...I couldn't find a thing that wouldn't be missed right away" but finally a piece of mosquito net used as a jelly strainer was sufficiently allotted for the task.Read more ›
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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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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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