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Beloved by Toni Morrison
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Beloved (original 1987; edition 1999)

by Toni Morrison

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
13,659221154 (3.88)1 / 730
Member:everde01
Title:Beloved
Authors:Toni Morrison
Info:Editions 10/18 (1999), Edition: [Nouv. éd.], Poche, 379 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:fantôme, esclavage, migration, Etats-Unis

Work details

Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987)

1980s (6)
  1. 70
    Kindred by Octavia E. Butler (susanbooks)
  2. 41
    Cane by Jean Toomer (cammykitty)
    cammykitty: An often overlooked classic.
  3. 30
    The Known World by Edward P. Jones (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  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
    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.
  7. 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.
  8. 10
    Philida by André 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.
  9. 00
    Bailey's Cafe by Gloria Naylor (PrincessPaulina)
  10. 01
    Sap Rising by Christine Lincoln (edwinbcn)
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English (209)  French (4)  Swedish (2)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (220)
Showing 1-5 of 209 (next | show all)
How do I describe this book? For those who don't know, the book explores the lives of slaves, both during captivity and after they escape to freedom. In particular, it tells the life of Sethe and her family, including the slaves she worked with. After Sethe escapes to free Ohio, her former owner catches up with her to bring her and her children back to Kentucky. Instead of allowing this to happen, Sethe tries to kill her children and herself, succeeding in killing one daughter, Beloved. Beloved comes back as a ghost, first haunting the house as in a typical ghost story and then coming back in bodily form. There are many different options that Morrison offers for understanding the ghost, from believing it really is the dead child to assuming the woman is escaped from a cabin where a man had been holding her captive for years.

I attempted to read this book for the first time about 12 years ago while in college, and I just couldn't commit to it. I gave up after about 50 pages. I couldn't believe in the ghost and fighting against the thought really consumed my reading. This time though, it just made sense. I was able to just accept the story and appreciate the telling. In fact, I didn't want to believe the common sense version that this ghost was actually a real woman who escaped a horrible life. Morrison's writing is genius. I don't think there is anyone else out there who has her gift for words and imagery. This is the kind of book where you want to highlight every single sentence. I love her pacing, as well. The story unfolds so beautifully, giving you bits of the story as you go. The subject matter is so painful that I don't think a reader could handle it any other way.

I look forward to reading this book again 12 years from now. I think it will mean something different to me every time I read it. ( )
  japaul22 | Aug 17, 2014 |
I read this for my Honors American Lit class, finishing a week or two ago. The writing was phenomenal, I think--the phrases and images just struck me, and made an impression almost independent of the story. This is the one book of all those I've had to read for a Lit class that I am grateful to have been assigned; I doubt I'd have picked it up on my own, not anytime soon at least, as I can't recall having heard of it prior to this class.

This book explores powerful ideas concerning love, the past, and memory, those being the main topics that come to mind at the moment. The circular narrative technique Morrison uses is perfect for her purpose, and allows the reader to experience the characters' minds and pasts in a way that follows the paths of thought and recollection.

Some people--or many, as seemed to be the case in my class--may be confused by the largely non-linear narration, or put off by certain elements in the story, but I guess it's just important to keep an open mind and reread the book, if need be. It's probably more enjoyable the second time around. I was able to anticipate the general shape of main plot points and to understand what was going on through the various clues that appear with increasing frequency up to the climax--and I'm not sure whether that made the reading more enjoyable or robbed it of some of the shock and surprise when things became clear. At any rate, I enjoyed it. This is one of those books that will stick with me. ( )
  -sunny- | Jul 15, 2014 |
Brilliant! A masterpiece of magical realism, and a masterpiece in its own right. Eerie, heart-breaking and a celebration of the human spirit, I put off reading it for years, but am glad I finally did. ( )
  kmstock | Jul 1, 2014 |
Could not get into this book, should have set it down, but stuggled through. Still not sure what it was about. ( )
  CMBlaker | May 6, 2014 |
So, someone asked the question: "how come there is no great literature that talks about slavery and black people?". Toni Morrison thought about it, and then she actually had the arrogance to say: "I am going to write exactly that". This unbelievable arrogance is something you can see even in an interview where she said about this book: "i didnt want words to get in the way". Come on, WHAT are you talking about, Toni? It's like singing a song and saying "i really didnt want the melody to get in the way". With THAT premise, she could have written anything at all, and still naive people would have fallen for her spell. And they did. She is SO playing the "if you cant understand me, that's your problem" kind of game! She did everything in her power to confuse elements of the plot, styles, and just doing an overall really poor job at writing a good novel. Who does she think she is, to mess with the basic elements of what constitutes a story (time, space, clarity)? Oh, these modern artists - making money out of people's lack of vision, depth and substance.
About the content: browsing through the internet, one of the most common comments about this book is that it is a "ghost story". Aside from the metaphorical "ghosts of the American past", that are very easy to understand, this book is NOT a ghost story at all. This book is the story of a mentally ill person, narrated with gigantic poetic licenses, in an unnecessarily convoluted way, on the background of american slavery. This is what it is. Trillian (reviewer below) is absolutely right. If you cannot see that the emperor is naked, you just don't get it, sorry. The author took one marginal element of some great books (the fact that some of them do require readers to put in some more thought than what a John Grisham book requires) and tried to write a great book herself by making sure her book was incredibly frustrating and difficult to read (careful: not to understand! To read!). She failed, because the book is mediocre. However, she convinced the naive masses that this was a wonderful piece of art. Congratulations to her, cause maybe she knows this very well and did it just to get as much success and exposure as possible. She is the Damien Hirst of literature! An illusionist who can sell crap as if it was gold! ( )
  tabascofromgudreads | Apr 19, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 209 (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. Full of baby's venom. The women in the house knew it and so did the children.
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
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Please distinguish between this complete 1987 novel and any abridgement of the original Work. Thank you.
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:56:56 -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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 12 descriptions

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