"124 was spiteful." From the opening sentence of Beloved, Morrison's narrative and rhetorical power never wavers; the power to speak from within history, while inventing history; the power to create characters of intricate specificity, characters afflicted with the wildly divergent breadth, depth, and violence of humanity; the power to reward, burden, and sustain us with her vision.— Yvonne
Toni Morrison's magnificent Pulitzer Prize-winning novel--first published in 1987--brought the unimaginable experience of slavery into the literature of our time and into our comprehension. Set in post-Civil War Ohio, it is the story of Sethe, an escaped slave who has risked her life in order to wrench herself from a living death; who has lost a husband and buried a child; who has borne the unthinkable and not gone mad. Sethe, who now lives in a small house on the edge of town with her daughter, Denver, her mother-in-law, Baby Suggs, and a disturbing, mesmerizing apparition who calls herself Beloved.
Sethe works at " beating back the past, " but it makes itself heard and felt incessantly: in her memory; in Denver's fear of the world outside the house; in the sadness that consumes Baby Suggs; in the arrival of Paul D, a fellow former slave; and, most powerfully, in Beloved, whose childhood belongs to the hideous logic of slavery and who has now come from the " place over there" to claim retribution for what she lost and for what was taken from her. Sethe's struggle to keep Beloved from gaining possession of her present--and to throw off the long-dark legacy of her past--is at the center of this spellbinding novel. But it also moves beyond its particulars, combining imagination and the vision of legend with the unassailable truths of history.
Upon the original publication of Beloved, John Leonard wrote in the "Los Angeles Times": " I can't imagine American literature without it." In fact, more than a decade later, it remains a preeminent novel of our time, speaking with timeless clarity and power to our experience as a nation with a past of bothabominable and ennobling circumstance.