A novel by Toni Morrison (1987), set in 1873 in America. The narrative technique is deliberately non‐linear and complex, the language richly poetic and suffused with biblical references. Sethe, a former slave, lives with her daughter Denver and the ghost of her dead baby girl. The book opens with the unexpected arrival of Paul D., one of the five men with whom Sethe had formerly been enslaved at Sweet Home, a Kentucky farm. Paul D. moves in, and as they face the past together, their tragic story unfolds. Meanwhile, an uncanny girl called Beloved comes to live with them. It emerges that Beloved is an incarnation of the daughter Sethe had murdered, in a fit of hysteria, in order to prevent their being torn apart. In three sections of poetry, the meaning of ‘Beloved’ is explored; the word transcends its character, and becomes a symbol for all dead and suffering slaves. The book is dedicated to ‘Sixty Million and more’. See also Slavery, Literature of.
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Toni Morrison (b. 1931) American novelist