"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--author of Song of Solomon and Tar Baby--is a writer of remarkable powers: her novels, brilliantly acclaimed for their passion, their dazzling language and their lyric and emotional force, combine the unassailable truths of experience and emotion with the vision of legend and imagination.
It is the story--set in post-Civil War Ohio--of Sethe, an escaped slave who has risked death 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: a woman of "iron eyes and backbone to match." Sethe lives in a small house on the edge of town with her daughter, Denver, her mother-in-law, Baby Suggs, and a disturbing, mesmerizing intruder who calls herself Beloved.
Sethe works at "beating back the past," but it is alive in all of them. It keeps Denver fearful of straying from the house. It fuels the sadness that has settled into Baby Suggs' "desolated center where the self that was no self made its home." And to Sethe, the past makes itself heard and felt incessantly: in memories that both haunt and soothe her...in the arrival of Paul D ("There was something blessed in his manner. Women saw him and wanted to weep"), one of her fellow slaves on the farm where she had once been kept...in the vivid and painfully cathartic stories she and Paul D tell each other of their years in captivity, of their glimpses of freedom...and, most powerfully, in the apparition of Beloved, whose eyes are expressionless at their deepest point, whose doomed childhood belongs to the hideous logic of slavery and who, as daughter, sister and seductress, 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 full possession of her present--and to throw off the long, dark legacy of her past--is at the center of this profoundly affecting and startling novel. But its intensity and resonance of feeling, and the boldness of its narrative, lift it beyond its particulars so that it speaks to our experience as an entire nation with a past of both abominable and ennobling circumstance.
In Beloved, Toni Morrison has given us a great American novel.
Toni Morrison was awarded the 1988 Pulitzer Prize in Literature for Beloved.
About the Author
Toni Morrison was born in Ohio and is a graduate of Howard University and Cornell University. She has worked in publishing and taught at various colleges and universities, including Yale, Rutgers, and SUNY Albany as the Schweitzer Chair. She is currently Robert F. Goheen Professor at Princeton. She was the recipient of the 1993 Nobel Prize for Literature.
“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