Beloved, Toni Morrison - a review
I cannot overstate how much I enjoyed reading this book for a second time. The lush language and imagery is full of so many layers that it's almost like poetry.
It takes a village to raise a child or banish a ghost, could be a summary of this gorgeous yet painful story. The end of the novel – the sense of strength, hope, community and forgiveness repays the reader for the river of tears they weep while reading 90% of the book.
It is difficult. One would like to pretend that these ugly, horrifying scenes couldn’t happen in the 21st century, but we can’t.
There are some truly incredible lines. Morrison uncovers the buried knowledge beneath this story of one woman and her family. Morrison says in the introduction that the story of a woman killing her child to avoid slavery is a true one while the motivations and terrible guilt at the author's projections.
Some of my favourite lines and passages -
"knees wide open as any grave."
"Boys hanging from the most beautiful sycamores in the world. It shamed her - remembering the wonderful soughing trees rather than the boys."
"their two shadows clashed and crossed on the ceiling like black swords."
“In Ohio, seasons are theatrical. Each one enters like a prima donna, convinced its performance is the reason the world has people in it... [S]ummer had been hooted offstage and autumn with its bottles of blood and gold had everybody’s attention.”
“It was the jungle whitefolks planted in them. And it grew. It spread. In, through and after life, it spread, until it invaded the whites who had made it. Touched them every one. Changed and altered them. Made them bloody, silly, worse than they ever wanted to be, so scared were they of the jungle they had made.”
“Nothing could be counted on in a world where even when you were a solution you were a problem.”
My belief is that the rise in women producing great horror is a natural reaction to patriarchy. Women understand horror - we live it. We know what it feels like to be overpowered and overwhelmed. Fear of strangers, fear of relatives, fear of standing out in a crowd. How much worse then is the double-barrelled burden of black women in America’s deep south? It is impossible to imagine, but we don’t need to try for it is laid bare for all to see and feel in Toni Morrison’s masterpiece “Beloved”.