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Beloved: THE ICONIC PULITZER PRIZE WINNING NOVEL (Vintage Classics) New e. Edition, Kindle Edition
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'An American masterpiece' AS Byatt
WITH A NEW INTRODUCTION BY BOOKER PRIZE WINNER BERNARDINE EVARISTO
Sethe is now miles away from Sweet Home - the farm where she was kept as a slave for many years. Unable to forget the unspeakable horrors that took place there, Sethe is haunted by the violent spectre of her dead child, the daughter who died nameless and whose tombstone is etched with a single word, 'Beloved'.
A tale of brutality, horror and, above all, love at any cost, Beloved is Toni Morrison's enduring masterpiece and best-known work.
Stunningly-designed new editions of Toni Morrison's best-known novels, published by Vintage Classics in celebration of her life and work.
'The literary titian we must never stop learning from' Metro
Winner of the PEN/Saul Bellow award for achievement in American fiction
From the Inside Flap
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 shelost 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. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B00N3Q0SZK
- Publisher : Vintage Digital; New e. edition (4 September 2014)
- Language : English
- File size : 3755 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 369 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 075401391X
- Best Sellers Rank: 7,891 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
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Around this central theme are a number of close family members and slaves with common histories. All of the characters are portrayed with powerfully emotional lives that really made me, a white male in his 60s, get some sense of the tortured lives imposed on such individuals. I can only imagine the impact of this book on those with an African American heritage.
The book is not an easy read as the story is told in a non-linear fashion and through the eyes of multiple characters. This keeps the reader of their toes, but makes the story ultimately a more involving read.
I can understand why this is considered a classic.
Admittedly It took me a bit of time to get into this book. Though once I got the gist of the lingo and the "tongue" in my head, it was a joy to read and difficult to put the book down.
The book is set in Cincinnati 1873 and the story is based Seethe, who is a runaway slave, trying to get herself, her children, friend's and husband to his mother's a free slave, where Seethe's cannat least raise her children in a free society and can offer sanctuary.
The story highlights the brutality of the slave in order to give luxury, lust and riches to the white man.
What sacrifices, especially a slave mother would do to protect her children and highlight the discrimination and lynching even after slavery was abolished.
In this story, we follow Seethe, a slave, wife and a mother of four children battle to get all to the safety of her mother in law named Baby Suggs - freed by her owner Mr Garner and paid for by her Son, Halle, Seethe husband.
Living on a farm called sweet home, the owners Mr and Mrs Garner are kind and reasonable to the slave's they have. Until things change and another master comes to the farm with strict and brutal tactics, a plan is made by the slaves to escape to freedom.
The escape doesn't go to plan to everyone. Whitemen are patrolling to capture runaways. When Seethe see's them at Baby Suggs house and knows that no place is a safe and free place, she takes action to keep her babies safe and free from the pain and trauma a slave life brings, though when her baby dies, Seethe is haunted for the rest of her life.
When Paul D, a fellow companion (slave) from sweet home tracks down Seethe many years later, he manages to banish the haunting, though Seethe free in body, is not free in spirit and mind and is still haunted by her past. However, Beloved turns up and Seethe, it seems, is able to put her demons to rest after the pain of bringing them to the surface.
I loved the story, the writing style and use of language and description.
Reaching the end of the story, you do wonder if Beloved was everyone's haunting, a life lesson and a mutual understanding of the sacrifices made by Seethe. As Beloved seemed to open everyone's eye's, open up painful memories that still enslave Seethe and shackle her to the experience of being a slave. Or was Beloved plotting something else to punish Seethe further for allowing her to justify Seethe's actions. It's a very thought provoking story!
Toni Morrison has also written
The Bluest Eye
Song of Solomon
God Help the Child
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 she 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 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.
Sadly, and despite Toni Morrison’s undoubted pedigree – for she won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993 - I do agree with either of these epithets. Some might argue that as a [relatively] elderly white man I would be incapable of empathising with the book, but my criticisms are nothing to do with a lack of empathy but are more a feeling that the book is not worthy of being considered as a masterpiece, as the writing is often unconvincing and confusing and the narrative frequently distracts from the powerful underlying story.
The book, which was inspired by a true story, recounts the life of Sethe, who lived as a slave in Ohio in the second half of the 19th century; escaped via a desperate journey across the Ohio river; and came to live with her Grandmother Baby Suggs and her daughter Denver in a house called “124” in the free city of Cincinnati. The eponymous Beloved is the baby daughter whom Sethe killed because she didn’t want her to be taken away from her into a life of slavery; which led to Sethe being jailed (along with the baby Denver) and to her family being ostracised by their black community.
The book’s most impressive passages describe in compelling detail the impecunious day-to-day horrific and oppressed existence of black slaves in middle America in the 19th century; their terror of white people, who consider them to be unhuman; and the widespread racism then prevalent in the country, even after the American Civil War. The latter, of course, still has echoes in modern USA.
Although the dialogue is written in the vernacular, it is credible and easily understood despite (or perhaps because of) the absence of grammar, syntax and so forth.
The story is told from various perspectives, sometimes from that of the [third person] author and sometimes from those of Sethe, Baby Suggs, Denver and other characters. This, coupled with the frequent time shifts and the fact that these are not described or signposted, meant that I often found myself wishing that the narrative had been written in a more straightforward manner.
One thing in particular that I actively disliked was the reappearance in number 124 of Beloved as a young woman, who becomes the dominant personality in the household, first as a silent presence and then as the seducer of Paul D, the itinerant black man who had become Sethe’s lover. For several chapters I was unsure whether this character was someone with the same name as Sethe’s murdered daughter, or (as it transpires) was a supernatural reincarnation of her. I found this plot device rather tedious and unhelpful.