详细内容

Beloved

Beloved ---Toni Morrison

Beloved begins in 1873 in Cincinnati, Ohio, where Sethe, a former slave, has been living with her eighteen-year-old daughter Denver. Sethe’s mother-in-law, Baby Suggs, lived with them until her death eight years earlier. Just before Baby Suggs’s death, Sethe’s two sons, Howard and Buglar, ran away. Sethe believes they fled because of the malevolent presence of an abusive ghost that has haunted their house at 124 Bluestone Road for years. Denver, however, likes the ghost, which everyone believes to be the spirit of her dead sister.

On the day the novel begins, Paul D, whom Sethe has not seen since they worked together on Mr. Garner’s Sweet Home plantation in Kentucky approximately twenty years earlier, stops by Sethe’s house. His presence resurrects memories that have lain buried in Sethe’s mind for almost two decades. From this point on, the story will unfold on two temporal planes. The present in Cincinnati constitutes one plane, while a series of events that took place around twenty years earlier, mostly in Kentucky, constitutes the other. This latter plane is accessed and described through the fragmented flashbacks of the major characters. Accordingly, we frequently read these flashbacks several times, sometimes from varying perspectives, with each successive narration of an event adding a little more information to the previous ones.

From these fragmented memories, the following story begins to emerge: Sethe, the protagonist, was born in the South to an African mother she never knew. When she is thirteen, she is sold to the Garners, who own Sweet Home and practice a comparatively benevolent kind of slavery. There, the other slaves, who are all men, lust after her but never touch her. Their names are Sixo, Paul D, Paul A, Paul F, and Halle. Sethe chooses to marry Halle, apparently in part because he has proven generous enough to buy his mother’s freedom by hiring himself out on the weekends.

Together, Sethe and Halle have two sons, Howard and Buglar, as well as a baby daughter whose name we never learn. When she leaves Sweet Home, Sethe is also pregnant with a fourth child. After the eventual death of the proprietor, Mr. Garner, the widowed Mrs. Garner asks her sadistic, vehemently racist brother-in-law to help her run the farm. He is known to the slaves as schoolteacher, and his oppressive presence makes life on the plantation even more unbearable than it had been before.

The slaves decide to run.

Schoolteacher and his nephews anticipate the slaves’ escape, however, and capture Paul D and Sixo. Schoolteacher kills Sixo and brings Paul D back to Sweet Home, where Paul D sees Sethe for what he believes will be the last time. She is still intent on running, having already sent her children ahead to her mother-in-law Baby Suggs’s house in Cincinnati. Invigorated by the recent capture, schoolteacher’s nephews seize Sethe in the barn and violate her, stealing the milk her body is storing for her infant daughter. Unbeknownst to Sethe, Halle is watching the event from a loft above her, where he lies frozen with horror. Afterward, Halle goes mad: Paul D sees him sitting by a churn with butter slathered all over his face. Paul D, meanwhile, is forced to suffer the indignity of wearing an iron bit in his mouth.

When schoolteacher finds out that Sethe has reported his and his nephews’ misdeeds to Mrs. Garner, he has her whipped severely, despite the fact that she is pregnant. Swollen and scarred, Sethe nevertheless runs away, but along the way she collapses from exhaustion in a forest. A white girl, Amy Denver, finds her and nurses her back to health. When Amy later helps Sethe deliver her baby in a boat, Sethe names this second daughter Denver after the girl who helped her. Sethe receives further help from Stamp Paid, who rows her across the Ohio River to Baby Suggs’s house. Baby Suggs cleans Sethe up before allowing her to see her three older children.

Sethe spends twenty-eight wonderful days in Cincinnati, where Baby Suggs serves as an unofficial preacher to the black community. On the last day, however, schoolteacher comes for Sethe to take her and her children back to Sweet Home. Rather than surrender her children to a life of dehumanizing slavery, she flees with them to the woodshed and tries to kill them. Only the third child, her older daughter, dies, her throat having been cut with a handsaw by Sethe. Sethe later arranges for the baby’s headstone to be carved with the word “Beloved.” The sheriff takes Sethe and Denver to jail, but a group of white abolitionists, led by the Bodwins, fights for her release. Sethe returns to the house at 124, where Baby Suggs has sunk into a deep depression. The community shuns the house, and the family continues to live in isolation.

Meanwhile, Paul D has endured torturous experiences in a chain gang in Georgia, where he was sent after trying to kill Brandywine, a slave owner to whom he was sold by schoolteacher. His traumatic experiences have caused him to lock away his memories, emotions, and ability to love in the “tin tobacco box” of his heart. One day, a fortuitous rainstorm allows Paul D and the other chain gang members to escape. He travels northward by following the blossoming spring flowers. Years later, he ends up on Sethe’s porch in Cincinnati.

Paul D’s arrival at 124 commences the series of events taking place in the present time frame. Prior to moving in, Paul D chases the house’s resident ghost away, which makes the already lonely Denver resent him from the start. Sethe and Paul D look forward to a promising future together, until one day, on their way home from a carnival, they encounter a strange young woman sleeping near the steps of 124. Most of the characters believe that the woman—who calls herself Beloved—is the embodied spirit of Sethe’s dead daughter, and the novel provides a wealth of evidence supporting this interpretation. Denver develops an obsessive attachment to Beloved, and Beloved’s attachment to Sethe is equally if not more intense. Paul D and Beloved hate each other and Beloved controls Paul D by moving him around the house like a rag doll and by seducing him against his will.

When Paul D learns the story of Sethe’s “rough choice”—her infanticide—he leaves 124 and begins sleeping in the basement of the local church. In his absence,

Sethe and Beloved’s relationship becomes more intense and exclusive. Beloved grows increasingly abusive, manipulative, and parasitic, and Sethe is obsessed with satisfying Beloved’s demands and making her understand why she murdered her.

Worried by the way her mother is wasting away, Denver leaves the premises of 124 for the first time in twelve years in order to seek help from Lady Jones, her former teacher. The community provides the family with food and eventually organizes under the leadership of Ella, a woman who had worked on the Underground Railroad and helped with Sethe’s escape, in order to exorcise Beloved from 124. When they arrive at Sethe’s house, they see Sethe on the porch with Beloved, who stands smiling at them, naked and pregnant. Mr. Bodwin, who has come to 124 to take Denver to her new job, arrives at the house. Mistaking him for schoolteacher, Sethe runs at Mr. Bodwin with an ice pick. She is restrained, but in the confusion Beloved disappears, never to return.

Afterward, Paul D comes back to Sethe, who has retreated to Baby Suggs’s bed to die. Mourning Beloved, Sethe laments, “She was my best thing.” But Paul D replies, “You are your best thing, Sethe.” The novel then ends with a warning that “this is not a story to pass on.” The town, and even the residents of 124, has forgotten Beloved “like an unpleasant dream during a troubling sleep.”

 

 

 

宠儿

《宠儿》取材于一段真实的历史,故事情节令人触目惊心

女黑奴塞丝怀着身孕只身从肯塔基的奴隶庄园逃到俄亥俄的辛辛那提,奴隶主追踪而至。为了不使儿女重复自己做奴隶的悲惨命运,她毅然杀死了自己刚刚会爬的幼女宠儿。

十八年后,奴隶制早已废除,而被她杀死的女婴还魂归来,和塞丝、塞丝的女儿丹芙以及塞丝的情人保罗生活在同一幢房子里。她以自己的出现日夜惩罚母亲当年的行为,不但加倍地向母亲索取着爱,甚至纠缠和引诱包罗,不择手段地扰乱和摧毁母亲刚刚回暖的生活。往事的梦魇一刻也不曾停止过对塞丝的纠缠,使得全书充满苦涩的诗意和紧张的悬念。

小说荣获25年来美国最佳小说第一名。作者托妮·莫里森,美国当代最重要的女作家之一。主要代表作有《最蓝的眼睛》、《秀拉》、《所罗门之歌》、《宠儿》、《爵士乐》、《天堂》等。曾获美国普利策小说奖,美国图书评论协会奖等多项大奖。1993年获诺贝尔文学奖,是历史上获此殊荣的唯一黑人女作家。

《宠儿》是托妮·莫里森最震撼人心,最成熟的代表作,现已成为当代文学史上不朽的经典,也是美国文学史上最畅销的作品之一。小说完成于1987年,1988年获美国普利策小说奖。2006年,《纽约时报》召集美国125位知名作家、评论家、编辑及文坛泰斗等选出自己心目中“25年来最佳美国小说”,《宠儿》以最高得票名列第一名。洛杉矶时报评论道,“这是一部惊世之作,难以想象没有它的美国文学是什么样!”