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.
"A masterwork. . . . Wonderful. . . . I can't imagine American literature without it." -John Leonard, Los Angeles Times
"A triumph." -Margaret Atwood, The New York Times Book Review
"Toni Morrison's finest work. . . . [It] sets her apart [and] displays her prodigious talent." -Chicago Sun-Times
"Dazzling. . . . Magical. . . . An extraordinary work." -The New York Times
"A masterpiece. . . . Magnificent. . . . Astounding. . . . Overpowering." -Newsweek
"Brilliant. . . . Resonates from past to present." -San Francisco Chronicle
"A brutally powerful, mesmerizing story. . . . Read it and tremble." -People
"Toni Morrison is not just an important contemporary novelist but a major figure in our national literature." -New York Review of Books
"A work of genuine force. . . . Beautifully written." -The Washington Post
"There is something great in Beloved: a play of human voices, consciously exalted, perversely stressed, yet holding true. It gets you." -The New Yorker
"A magnificent heroine . . . a glorious book." -The Baltimore Sun
"Superb. . . . A profound and shattering story that carries the weight of history. . . . Exquisitely told." -Cosmopolitan
"Magical . . . rich, provocative, extremely satisfying." -Milwaukee Journal
"Beautifully written. . . . Powerful. . . . Toni Morrison has become one of America's finest novelists." -The Plain Dealer
"Stunning. . . A lasting achievement." -The Christian Science Monitor
"Written with a force rarely seen in contemporary fiction. . . . One feels deep admiration." -USA Today
"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." -The Village Voice
"A book worth many rereadings." -Glamour
"In her most probing novel, Toni Morrison has demonstrated once again the stunning powers that place her in the first ranks of our living novelists." -St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Heart-wrenching . . . mesmerizing." -The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"Shattering emotional power and impact." -New York Daily News
"A rich, mythical novel . . . a triumph." -St. Petersburg Times
"Powerful . . . voluptuous." -New York
124 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 band 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, their mother; and their little sister, Denver, all by themselves in the gray and white house on Bluestone Road. It didn't have a number then, because Cincinnati didn't stretch that far. In fact, Ohio had been calling itself a state only seventy years when first one brother and then the next stuffed quilt packing into his hat, snatched up his shoes, and crept away from the lively spite the house felt for them.
Baby Suggs didn't even raise her head. From her sickbed she heard them go but that wasn't the reason she lay still. It was a wonder to her that her grandsons had taken so long to realize that every house wasn't like the one on Bluestone Road. Suspended between the nastiness of life and the meanness of the dead, she couldn't get interested in leaving life or living it, let alone the fright of two creeping-off boys. Her past had been like her present--intolerable--and since she knew death was anything but forgetfulness, she used the little energy left her for pondering color.
"Bring a little lavender in, if you got any. Pink, if you don't."
And Sethe would oblige her with anything from fabric to her own tongue. Winter in Ohio was especially rough if you had an appetite for color. Sky provided the only drama, and counting on a Cincinnati horizon for life's principal joy was reckless indeed. So Sethe and the girl Denver did what they could, and what the house permitted, for her. Together they waged a perfunctory battle against the outrageous behavior of that place; against turned-over slop jars, smacks on the behind, and gusts of sour air. For they understood the source of the outrage as well as they knew the source of light.
Baby Suggs died shortly after the brothers left, with no interest whatsoever in their leave-taking or hers, and right afterward Sethe and Denver decided to end the persecution by calling forth the ghost that tried them so. Perhaps a conversation, they thought, an exchange of views or something would help. So they held hands and said, "Come on. Come on. You may as well just come on."
The sideboard took a step forward but nothing else did.
"Grandma Baby must be stopping it," said Denver. She was ten and still mad at Baby Suggs for dying.
Sethe opened her eyes. "I doubt that," she said.
"Then why don't it come?"
"You forgetting how little it is," said her mother. "She wasn't even two years old when she died. Too little to understand. Too little to talk much even."
"Maybe she don't want to understand," said Denver.
"Maybe. But if she'd only come, I could make it clear to her." Sethe released her daughter's hand and together they pushed the sideboard back against the wall. Outside a driver whipped his horse into the gallop local people felt necessary when they passed 124.
"For a baby she throws a powerful spell," said Denver.
"No more powerful than the way I loved her," Sethe answered and there it was again. The welcoming cool of u
Morrison's magnificent Pulitzer Prize-winning novel--first published in 1987--brings the unimaginable experience of slavery into the literature of today and into the reader's comprehension.