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Beloved Library Binding – 8 Jun 2004

4.2 out of 5 stars 169 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Library Binding: 321 pages
  • Publisher: Perfection Learning (8 Jun. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0756940559
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756940553
  • Product Dimensions: 12.4 x 2.3 x 20.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (169 customer reviews)

Product Description

Amazon 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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I had never heard of Toni Morrison before this book was suggested as the next read at my book club, although she has been honoured with a Nobel Prize for Literature. After reading "Beloved" I can see why she won the Pulitzer Prize for this haunting novel. The book is written in a style which is at first hard to get used to, and I found the first eighty pages or so challenging. However, the beauty and poetry of the narrative is penetrating, and perfectly contrasts with the brutality of the plot.
The novel revolves around Sethe: her struggle for freedom from the oppressive and highly disturbing life that she leads as a slave, and the shocking and heartbreaking decision she comes to in order to 'save' her children from such a life. When a stranger arrives at her door the lives of Sethe and those closest to her are changed forever.
"Beloved" is a novel which has stayed with me long after I read the last page, and is a must-read for any serious literature lover.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
What a pleasure to read a great modern novel.

The American Toni Morrison won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. Beloved, her fifth book, was inspired by a true story about a slave-mother in the mid-nineteenth century (called Sethe in the novel), who escaped across the river Ohio to the free city of Cincinnati, just before the Civil War.

There are four principal voices, about whom we learn as much from how they talk as what they say. There is a shocking central narrative, which darts back and forth in time like the unfolding of a shared trauma in group psychoanalytic sessions. The African-Americans who tell the story are profoundly instinctive and generally terrified of 'whitepeople', who are usually seen as non-human.

Other characters are also brought to life, such as the slave-owner, 'Schoolteacher', or the old-timer and ex-slave, 'Stamp Paid'. Though hers is not the pivotal character in the story, Sethe's daughter Denver became (for me) the anchor, as the most sympathetic and rounded person, who eventually frees herself from mental subjugation.

Ghosts are flesh and blood entities in Beloved. Sethe's daughter (called Beloved) reappears after many years, despite having been killed when an infant by her mother, who did not want her baby to be captured by a vicious slave-owner. This incident had led to Sethe and her family being shunned by their community. As in South Africa under apartheid, oppression can lead not to solidarity amongst the oppressed but to fierce mutual suspicion. This feels more realistic than the somewhat simplistic characterisations in the Oscar-winning film, 12 Years A Slave.

Occasionally the novel can be obscure. But this minor fault is massively outweighed by the imaginative writing which brings to life the hemmed-in and yet freely-roaming mindsets of the central characters.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I felt I must write a review of this book as it is a first rate novel and in my view, a bucket list book. Along with To Kill a mockingbird and Catcher in the Rye.

Sidetracked by the fact that anybody could give this book a one star review, i found myself reading all the one star reviews and sadly, it seemed to centre on people finding the book too difficult to read or unduly complicated.

To address those issues, i would say my husband started the book before me and said it was really hard to get into. So when i picked it up I was expecting it to be hard and instead, i found it easier than i had expected. It does involve a sort of freefall approach.

Its a bit like living in a family who don't speak about their past, and every now and then you pick up a snippet of the story and you put it together yourself. There is no A to B, just a lot of talk and eventually you know all the story, bit by bit.

Luckily, the main character, Sethe, is immediately engaging and I always wanted to listen out for her story, so it was no trouble to me to put my questions aside, wait my patience and gradually learn her life history. The novel left me worried, many times, that I might not remember the questions I had, might not answer them all. But in the end, it did. Either by allusion or directly telling me, i learned everything.

It IS NOT the story of a haunting as some people seem to think. It is the story of a haunted past. A race of people treated like animals until they act like animals. You got two feet not four feet. A dog whipped to a frenzy so the dog can't be trusted to not to bite. (to paraphrase).

The residents of 124 are living in an angry house filled with the voices and presence of the dead.
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By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 15 Sept. 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of 1988, Toni Morrison frees herself from the bonds of traditional narrative and establishes an independent style, just as her characters have freed themselves from the horrors of slavery and escaped from Kentucky to Ohio. Revealing the story of Sethe and her family as they survive the brutality of the farm, only to encounter torments even more punishing than whippings after they escape, Morrison presents scenes in a seemingly random order, each scene revealing some aspect of life for Sethe, her boys, her dead baby Beloved, and the new baby Denver, both in the past and in the present. Moving back and forth, around, and inside out through Sethe's recollections, she gradually reveals Sethe's story to the reader, its horror increasing as the reader makes the connections which turn disconnected scenes into a powerful and harrowing chronology.

As the novel opens, Sethe and Denver have lived in #124, a house in Ohio, for eighteen years, refusing to socialize and enjoying no company. When Paul D. Garner, one of the Sweet Home men and a friend of her long-missing husband, arrives on her doorstep and moves in, Sethe slowly reveals her long-buried nightmares, and the two share their stories of the events leading up to their escape. Most haunting to Sethe is the death of her young daughter Beloved, shortly after the escape from the farm, though the reader does not know for many pages the shocking manner of her death. When a ghostly figure who calls herself Beloved arrives at #124, shortly after Paul D., Morrison creates mystery and a heart-stoppingly tense atmosphere, when Beloved, too, moves in. As Beloved gradually takes over the household and seems to demand and then possess Sethe's soul, the sorrow which has burdened Sethe seems close to breaking her.
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