Ten minutes for seven letters: Reading Beloved's epithaph
Weinstock, Jeffrey, Department of English, Language and Literature
Arizona Board of Regents
Copyright 2005 by the Arizona Board of Regents. Intellectual Property Rights owned by Jeffrey Weinstock. This material is copyrighted, and any further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without the permission of the copyright owner.
Morrison, Toni; Beloved; American literature--20th century; Ghosts; Ghost stories; Slavery--Fiction
In order to approach the subject of spectrality in Toni Morrison's Beloved and its relation to language, and to the possibility of justice for the living and the dead, one must start with the complex mediation performed by the epitaph, because, from start to finish, Beloved is a story about an epitaph, the name "Beloved." Everything in Beloved, from title to last word, circles around the name, the ways in which the word "beloved" connotes both the most intense intimacy and communal gatherings, the celebration of new life together and the sundering of bonds by death. At bottom, the most basic question of Morrison's text is what does it mean to be truly beloved? How does one read the living dead letters of the text's title, which is also an epitaph?