If I were a college English professor I'd want to teach this book. I know that doesn't sound like the best recommendation to a casual book blog, but I mean it as the highest of praise. This book is so full of symbolism that I think it would be a fabulous book to read and discuss with others who know what they are talking about.When slavery has torn apart one's heritage, when the past is more real than the present, when the rage of a dead baby can literally rock a house, then the traditional novel is no longer an adequate instrument. And so Pulitzer Prize-winner Beloved is written in bits and images, smashed like a mirror on the floor and left for the reader to put together. In a novel that is hypnotic, beautiful, and elusive, Toni Morrison portrays the lives of Sethe, an escaped slave and mother, and those around her. There is .... Baby Suggs, who makes her living with her heart because slavery "had busted her legs, back, head, eyes, hands, kidneys, womb and tongue;" and Paul D, a man with a rusted metal box for a heart and a presence that allows women to cry. At the center is Sethe, whose story makes us think...about what we mean when we say we love our children or freedom. The stories circle, swim dreamily to the surface, and are suddenly clear and horrifying.Review by Erica Bauermeister:
From 500 Great Books by Women.
In a lot of ways Beloved is a ghost story. It is about a an actual ghost, Beloved. It is also about the ghosts of slavery. It is also part historical fiction, based on an actual historic event where an escaped slave kills her children rather than return them to a life of slavery. "The novel also seek to understand the impact of slavery, both on the psychology of individuals and on the larger patterns of culture and history... [it] powerfully portrays the meanings of what it means to be owned by another and the difficulty of owning oneself."-from Gradesaver
- "Those white things have taken all I had or dreamed,' she said, 'and broke my heartstrings too. There is no bad luck in the world but whitefolks." - Toni Morrison, Beloved, Ch. 9
- “I was talking about time. It’s so hard for me to believe in it. Some things go. Pass on. Some things just stay. I used to think it was my rememory. You know. Some things you forget. Other things you never do….” (35-36).
- "Bit by bit, at 124 and in the Clearing, along with others, she had claimed herself. Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another." - Toni Morrison, Beloved, Ch. 9
Lest you think this book is too high-minded for you, I challenge you to read it anyway. Once I got started I was completely mesmerized by the prose and swept up in its story. It shows up on the list of Best 100 novels of all time for good reason.