Toni Morrison's Beloved

Feminine Mystiques


  • Rossitsa Terzieva-Artemis University of Nicosia



Since its publication in 1987, this novel by Morrison has spurred an enormous wave of critical responses and interpretations. Undoubtedly, the most challenging aspect to any critic is the fact that Beloved rigorously defies hermeneutic foreclosures. I choose to read the novel as a key text which throws light upon liminal psychic experiences by using psychoanalysis and especially Julia Kristeva's theory of the abject, as well as the narratological approach of Bakhtin. Morrison deals with the problem of human survival on two levels, thus bridging the gap between historical narrative and personal history. One of these levels is the level on which the author makes a subversive record of the history of survival-in-suffering, and relates the communal history. The second level is the level of depiction of survival in the history-of-suffering, that is, each individual's history. Through analysis of the issues of language, memory, trauma, and the unconscious I will try to show how memory and trauma are both personal and communal, and how they shape - through language - the psychohistory of the individual.