Reading Literature with Computers, Week 2 Blog

Beloved is in some ways an unusual reading experience for me. A lot of books, I feel capable of reading assigned page numbers in sections, or of combining reading them with something else being sort-of-on-my-mind. But I think part of what makes Beloved so emotionally affective its immersive quality, both in terms of the prose and the narrative itself. Obviously Morrison’s prose and style are both evocative and unforgettable, but – as we talked about to class – the fluid way through which it passes from present to past and from character to character. In this way, both time and identity are fluid in the greater story of Beloved. Not only does this reflect the way our collective, human experiences of time and identity do not follow the “rules” of narrative, but it also, more specifically and perhaps more importantly, reflects the fragmented narratives that have by necessity emerged out of Sethe and Paul D’s experiences with enslavement, and of Denver’s experiences as existing outside of this generation.

I’m really encaptured by Sethe as a protagonist, in her instantly memorable complexity and in the qualities of her narration, as well as how she’s seen from the outside. Like I said, it’s hard to not read Beloved in one sitting; the lack of numbered chapters feels like a very deliberate, instantly evocative choice. The chapters in Beloved feel like slightly divided pieces of a whole rather than “chapters” in a more conventional sense. I’m not sure yet what text analysis might productively reveal about the novel, but it’ll be interesting to find out in the coming weeks.

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