Sethe 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 tight as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement by Nobel Prize laureate Toni Morrison.
Toni Morrison's magnificent Pulitzer Prize-winning novel--first published in 1987--brought the unimaginable experience of slavery into the literature of our time and into our comprehension. Set in post-Civil War Ohio, it is the story of Sethe, an escaped slave who has risked her life 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. Sethe, who now lives in a small house on the edge of town with her daughter, Denver, her mother-in-law, Baby Suggs, and a disturbing, mesmerizing apparition who calls herself Beloved.
Sethe works at "beating back the past," but it makes itself heard and felt incessantly: in her memory; in Denver's fear of the world outside the house; in the sadness that consumes Baby Suggs; in the arrival of Paul D, a fellow former slave; and, most powerfully, in Beloved, whose childhood belongs to the hideous logic of slavery and who has now come from the "place over there" to claim retribution for what she lost and for what was taken from her. Sethe's struggle to keep Beloved from gaining possession of her present--and to throw off the long-dark legacy of her past--is at the center of this spellbinding novel. But it also moves beyond its particulars, combining imagination and the vision of legend with the unassailable truths of history.
Upon the original publication of Beloved, John Leonard wrote in the Los Angeles Times: "I can't imagine American literature without it." In fact, more than a decade later, it remains a preeminent novel of our time, speaking with timeless clarity and power to our experience as a nation with a past of both abominable and ennobling circumstance.
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Banned Books Week is coming up soon so I'm rereading Beloved. This book has been among the most challenged books for years.
It's based on a true story of an enslaved African-American woman who killed her child to spare them from living a life of slavery.
One of the more recent challenges was in late 2021 when Glenn Youngkin, Virginis's Republican governer-elect targeted Beloved in a campaign ad that featured a parent upset that the novel was taught to her son when he was a senior in high school.
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