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Beloved by Toni Morrison
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Beloved (1987)

by Toni Morrison

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
14,152232146 (3.88)2 / 779
Recently added byAnnette_Oppenlander, AdorablyBookish, private library, Jernsaksa, RVHSGriggs, Thraxina, BookAddictUK
Legacy LibrariesThomas C. Dent
  1. 70
    Kindred by Octavia E. Butler (susanbooks)
  2. 30
    The Known World by Edward P. Jones (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  3. 41
    Cane by Jean Toomer (cammykitty)
    cammykitty: An often overlooked classic.
  4. 20
    A Visitation of Spirits: A Novel by Randall Kenan (lottpoet)
  5. 10
    Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  6. 10
    The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines (karmiel)
    karmiel: Both books include a strong woman who attempts to build her life as a free woman after escaping/exiting slavery.
  7. 10
    Philida by Andre Brink (PghDragonMan)
    PghDragonMan: The true meaning of freedom, the price of freedom, cruel things people do in the name of love and cruel acts performed without love are the focus of these books.
  8. 21
    Mojo: Conjure Stories by Nalo Hopkinson (cammykitty)
    cammykitty: This collection of short stories is nowhere near as dark as Beloved, but it's worth following these tales to the crossroads.
  9. 10
    A Killing in This Town: A Novel by Olympia Vernon (hyacinthony)
    hyacinthony: I was reminded by Morrison's poetic narrative voice at the end of part 2 of Vernon's narrative style. Both books convey a powerful and mysterious spiritual force embedded in the violence of post-slavery african american conditions.
  10. 00
    Bailey's Cafe by Gloria Naylor (PrincessPaulina)
  11. 01
    Sap Rising by Christine Lincoln (edwinbcn)
1980s (5)
Ghosts (128)
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English (219)  French (4)  Swedish (2)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (2)  Italian (2)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (232)
Showing 1-5 of 219 (next | show all)
I tried to read this novel about 5 times. I cannot get into it. Actually, I absolutely hate it. I keep trying because everyone else in the world raves about it! ( )
  engpunk77 | Aug 14, 2015 |
Being a novel involved with direct character experience with slavery, there are a lot of really brutal, raw, painful events. Good slave owners and bad slave owners come out a lot alike in the end as far as the consequences of their actions on the survivors of slavery. I wanted freedom from these experiences for the characters and they do eventually attain some degree of freedom but this is difficult to achieve. This is also a novel where children are not protected despite the characters' best efforts and that has unusual consequences in this book.

Morrison's writing is powerful and the novel is skillfully constructed. A horror experience is provided as readers gradually learn more and more about the situation. Though the novel as a whole is well enough written, one part of the novel that didn't work well for me was the brief stream-of-consciousness section describing Beloved from Sethe's, Denver's, and Beloved's points of view. It was confusing without particularly adding anything. Overall, this was an extremely engaging and eerie read. ( )
  karmiel | Aug 4, 2015 |
[My Antonia] by Willa Cather and [Beloved] by Toni Morrison

Life is filled with remembrance, honeyed with nostalgia or seasoned with sour regret. Some of the best books tap into the yen to look back at a time that has lost reality’s sharp edges, glowing in our collective memory as a better or simpler time. Others seek to shine hindsight’s harsh light, to expose any such wistful longing as a distorting toxin. The truth, as always, probably lies somewhere between.

A bunny cake, with coconut frosting is my earliest memory. I was obsessed with Bugs Bunny; his silly antics struck a cord with my as yet undeveloped brain. There was something special about that crazy animal, able to outwit man and beast alike yet still humble enough to not take himself too seriously. Believing she could work any miracle, in the kitchen or beyond, I begged for a Bugs Bunny cake, with coconut frosting, of course. These were the days before many specialty bakeries existed, before the country developed a sense of entitlement to purchase anything that could be imagined, when little boy’s dreams depended on a mother’s ingenuity and devotion. Baking a cake in such an unusual and intricate shape didn’t seem like too much to ask. He was a famous and heroic figure, after all – there must be cakes made in his likeness. Like all things I asked my mother to produce, the bunny cake appeared, furry with coconut and complete with black whiskers. I’m told that I can’t remember this event, as it was my second birthday, that I must have seen a picture that I’ve confused as a memory. But no one can produce the picture, and I remember the candlelight dancing across that bunny’s coconut fur. That event stands in my memory like a baptism of sorts, initiating me into the faith that my mother could do anything – she need only be asked. Of course, in later years, apostasy arrived with a teenaged fury. But like all prodigals, I returned as I grew to respect the love and devotion that produced the miracles of my youth – the middle ground between nostalgia and reality’s harsh light.

Willa Cather’s elegiac [My Antonia] is hazy with honeyed nostalgia. It is a book sitting atop a small rise in the plains and looking back over what has become of a way of life, of a place and people deeply rooted in the soil watching as the world careens off in a different direction. There is a truth to the remembrance, to freezing a place’s sensations in amber to look back on as encouragement against tomorrow’s severity. And that’s what [My Antonia] is about: Jim Burden, unhappy with his job’s mundanity, looking back on his childhood hero and love, Antonia. Her wildness, her steely determination, her beauty; all things that he associates with the vast prairie where they lived and things he longs for in his adult life. Listen to Willa as Jim remembers evenings with Antonia:
“All those afternoons were the same, but I never got used to them. As far as we could see, the miles of copper-red grass were drenched in sunlight that was stronger and fiercer than any other time of the day. The blond cornfields were red gold, the haystacks turned rosy and threw long shadows. The whole prarie was like the bush that burned with fire and was not consumed. That hour always had the exultation of victory, of triumphant ending, like a hero’s death – heroes who died young and gloriously. It was a sudden transfiguration, a lifting-up of day.”
As beautiful as Jim’s memory is, it is tainted by the place from where he views it all, as you can see in the next paragraph:
“How many an afternoon Antonia and I have trailed along the prarie under that magnificence! And always two long black shadows flitted before us or followed after, dark spots on the ruddy grass.”
Those shadows that were sometimes ahead and sometimes chasing them are the events that cast them away from youth’s simple and enveloping beauty. It is these shadows that Jim speaks from as a man, longing for the childhood’s lost rays. They are the shadows from which I see the candlelight dancing on a cake in the shape of a bunny.

On the other hand, for the characters in Toni Morrison’s [Beloved], “Remembering seemed unwise.” Rather than looking back into soft amber light, Morrison’s characters speak from the shadows into darkness. Indeed, the fowl past is embodied in a specter that has seized flesh and blood to haunt Sethe and her daughter Denver. Having killed her infant rather than see it be enslaved, the child first haunts her home as a poltergeist, and then, when a threatening force arrives in Paul D, an old friend, the ghost takes on human form, pulling Sethe and Denver into an obsessive spiral. Though Beloved is the impetus for the plot, the story is really how Sethe and Paul D arrived at this point in their lives, how they survived brutal conditions to see freedom and how the choices that led to their freedom haunt their souls. Looking back for these two is to look into an abyss. And yet at the end of the book, Paul D rescues Sethe from a suicidal malaise, remembering what another of their friends said about the love of his life:
“She is a friend of my mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order. It’s good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind.”
Even from the darkness, Paul D sees a faint light in the past, a salvation in his memory. That’s that candlelight I see dancing on a bunny’s coconut fur in my memory.

There are few books more beautifully written than [My Antonia] and few books more stark and difficult than [Beloved]. But they both stand for what remembrance holds, whether dark or amber, and that in the light of either, hope glimmers.

Bottom Line: The light and dark of memory.

4 bones!!!!! ( )
2 vote blackdogbooks | Aug 2, 2015 |
One of my favourite books; happy to have it in this lovely edition. It improves with every reading (and the first time I found it really diffcult to follow). Heartbreak on every page. ( )
  overthemoon | Jun 19, 2015 |
The style of narrative is something I could happily live without. I'm certain the story was really good, but I just couldn't get past Morrison's style of writing.

This was the audiobook, read by the writer, and all I have to say about that is, Ms...Morrison must have...gone to the...Captain Kirk...school of...reading. ( )
  benuathanasia | Jun 10, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 219 (next | show all)
"Beloved" is Toni Morrison's fifth novel, and another triumph. Indeed, Ms. Morrison's versatility and technical and emotional range appear to know no bounds. If there were any doubts about her stature as a pre-eminent American novelist, of her own or any other generation, ''Beloved'' will put them to rest.
 
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» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Toni Morrisonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dekker, BesselTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vink, NettieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Beloved ( [1998]IMDb)
Awards and honors
Epigraph
I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. Romans 9:25
Dedication
Sixty Million
and more
First words
124 was spiteful.
Quotations
I will never run from another thing on this earth.
Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another.
And though she and others lived through and got over it, she could never let it happen to her own. The best things she was, was her children.
Being alive was the hard part.
Nobody stopped playing checkers just because the pieces included her children.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Please distinguish between this complete 1987 novel and any abridgement of the original Work. Thank you.
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Information from the Swedish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0452264464, Paperback)

Toni Morrison gently reads her own Pulitzer Prize-winning work in the unabridged version of this riveting tale of ex-slave Sethe and the beloved ghost that haunts her. While Morrison makes occasional odd pauses in her reading, what is lost in smoothness is more than made up for in quiet intensity as the author reads words obviously deeply felt. Her intimate knowledge of the characters and their motivations lends this reading an authority that helps the listener sort out the breaks in time and dialogue in this complex story of a woman coming to terms with her enslaved past and the loss of her husband and baby daughter. (Running time: 12 hours, eight cassettes) --Kimberly Heinrichs

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:50 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

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. After the Civil War ends, Sethe longingly recalls the two-year-old daughter whom she killed when threatened with recapture after escaping from slavery 18 years before.… (more)

» see all 11 descriptions

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