Toni Morrison's "Beloved" (Bloom's Notes)

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A collection of critical essays on Toni Morrison's Beloved

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Review:

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

Review:

" 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
"

"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 ofhers 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
"

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Published by Chelsea House Pub (1998)
ISBN 10: 0791052230 ISBN 13: 9780791052235
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Book Description Chelsea House Pub, 1998. Paperback. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0791052230

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