Beloved, Toni Morrison


I waited for you.

You are mine.

You are mine.

You are mine.

Beloved, by Toni Morrison, has been on my list for ages.  It is one of the five books I think of when I think great American classics.  By the title alone I knew it would completely capture me.  It’s a word that I love saying over and over, even guessing how it is to be pronounced: be-loved? bell-lov-ed?

For anyone who isn’t familiar with the premise of Beloved, it is a story surrounding Sethe, her daughter, Denver, and Paul D., a man from Sethe’s past back at Sweet Home, the plantation where the two had been enslaved prior to the Civil War.  Sethe’s home has been marked by tragedy upon tragedy, haunted by the ghosts of the past, and Paul D. comes to bring back harmony and happiness, or even bring it into the home for the first time.

This is a novel I feel silly almost commenting on because I know it’s such a powerful subject, such a powerful past, one that I am not a product of or an inheritor of.  I will comment though a little more on its form.  The prose is so richly lyrical.  I love prose that is so poetic I can’t help but to whisper the lines to myself when I read it.  While the story is painful, the beauty of the words help ease the plot along.

I want to include here a video of Toni Morrison discussing Beloved.  My friend Arianna told me it’s an interview I had to watch.  Although this interview clip cuts off, it’s worth watching!  I love how she calls her text so “buried.”  It’s the perfect word.  It is layers upon layers upon layers, which is why I know I will return to it again in my lifetime.

My good Australian friend Lucy, who also interns at the Smithsonian Institute, saw Beloved in the stack, and mentioned that she also had been wanting to read it for awhile.  She recorded the first page for me, and read it with a tone of absolute sacredness.  After she handed the book back to me, she told me she had no idea how dark it was already by the first page.

She’s right; BELOVED is a book that launches you right into the heart of this wretched story.  And you never get the chance to come up for air.

Books Read: 1


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