Summary and book reviews of Beloved by Toni Morrison

Beloved

by Toni Morrison

Beloved
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2006, 360 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2004, 352 pages

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Book Summary

Beloved is Morrison's undisputed masterpiece. It elegantly captures hers trademark touches: elegant prose, fantastical occurrences, striking characters, and racial tension.

Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe’s new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement.

1

I24 WAS SPITEFUL. Full of a baby's venom. The women in the house knew it and so did the children. For years each put up with the spite in his own way, but by 1873 Sethe and her daughter Denver were its only victims. The grandmother, Baby Suggs, was dead, and the sons, Howard and Buglar, had run away by the time they were thirteen years old--as soon as merely looking in a mirror shattered it (that was the signal for Buglar); as soon as two tiny hand prints appeared in the cake (that was it for Howard). Neither boy waited to see more; another kettleful of chickpeas smoking in a heap on the floor; soda crackers crumbled and strewn in a line next to the doorsill. Nor did they wait for one of the relief periods: the weeks, months even, when nothing was disturbed. No. Each one fled at once--the moment the house committed what was for him the one insult not to be borne or witnessed a second time. Within two months, in the dead of winter, leaving their grandmother, Baby Suggs; Sethe, ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

San Francisco Chronicle

Brilliant. . . . Resonates from past to present.

Los Angeles Times - John Leonard

A masterwork. . . . Wonderful. . . . I can’t imagine American literature without it.

Newsweek

A masterpiece. . . . Magnificent. . . . Astounding. . . . Overpowering.

Chicago Sun-Times

Toni Morrison’s finest work. . . . [It] sets her apart [and] displays her prodigious talent.

People

A brutally powerful, mesmerizing story. . . . Read it and tremble.

New York Review of Books

Toni Morrison is not just an important contemporary novelist but a major figure in our national literature.

The New Yorker

There is something great in Beloved: a play of human voices, consciously exalted, perversely stressed, yet holding true. It gets you.

The Plain Dealer

Beautifully written. . . . Powerful. . . . Toni Morrison has become one of America’s finest novelists.

The Village Voice

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.

Publishers Weekly

Mixed with the lyric beauty of the writing, the fury in Morrison's . . . book is almost palpable...a haunting chronicle of slavery and its aftermath set in rural Ohio in the wake of the Civil War...brilliantly conceived story . . . should not be missed.''

Library Journal

Powerful is too tame a word to describe Toni Morrison's searing new novel of post-Civil War Ohio...A fascinating, grim, relentless story.

Reader Reviews

Theresa Bradley

A Classic in Any Eye
Though slavery was over long before I was even thought of, the book Beloved by Toni Morrison carried me back to some of the darkest years in world history. Sethe, the main character, escapes slavery and has to deal with the personal trauma in which ...   Read More

Mainali R. K.

Heart Touchability
The renown masterpiece 'BELOVED' by Toni Morison is a heart touching piece of art about blacks and the treatment done by whites. This novel clearly and vividly portrays the miserable condition of Negroes. It also makes the reader aware about the ...   Read More

John

A Disturbing Book with no Literary Merit
This is essentially one of the worst books I've ever read in my entire life. The slavery element has been pounded into a pulp in American history. What about native americans- what about heroes/legends like Davey Crocket that killed thousands of ...   Read More

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