Beloved (A Quibble about a Masterpiece by Toni Morrison)

Eidos | 2/22/2019 | Staff
aniki (Posted by) Level 3
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People trained to know tell me Beloved by Toni Morrison is a classic. When creating a “must read” canon of Twentieth Century literature in English, the book makes the cut (and such choices are hard) in department after department.

I will not question that judgment here.

Book - Sentence - Hurry - Time - Sethe

First, the book is beautifully written. Take just this one sentence: “Not quite in a hurry, but losing no time, Sethe and Paul D climbed the white stairs.” I enjoyed copying the sentence, admiring the form, how the three parts balance. Color, in this case ‘white,” is important in the text, and here suggested to me the direction or decision may be wrong. The feeling described (“not quite in a hurry, but losing no time”) is captured in words: just so.

Second, this a powerful woman’s voice about women as the central figures in a story. My understanding, perspective is widened by the text.

Emotions - Paragraphs - Book - Prose - Text

The emotions are genuine. Painful paragraphs, and there are many of those, are painful. I cannot read the book quickly, though it is written in clear prose, because the text is profound: spiritually rich, even where I do not trust the spirit invoked.

The commentary on the book is vast, my appreciation sincere.

And yet.

As I read this week, I was in an odd situation of having saturated myself in the narratives of enslaved people finding freedom.

Morrison - Slavery - **** - Amy - Chapman

Morrison is not too graphic, not at all. Slavery was ****. Here is Amy Chapman, enslaved, then free:

He was de meanes’ oberseer us ever had. He tuk my ol’est brother an’ had him stretched out jus’ lak you see Christ on de cross; had him chained, an’ I sot down on de groun’ by him an’ cried all night lack Mary an’ dem done. Dat oberseer was de fus’ one dat ever putt me in de fiel’, an’ he whupped...
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