The Daughter's Return: African-American and Caribbean Women's Fictions of History

By Caroline Rody | Go to book overview

1
Toni Morrison's Beloved
History, “Rememory, ” and a “Clamor for a Kiss”

i am accused of tending to the past as if i made it, as if i sculpted it with my own hands. i did not. this past was waiting for me when i came, a monstrous unnamed baby, and i with my mother's itch took it to breast and named it History. she is more human now, learning language everyday, remembering faces, names and dates. when she is strong enough to travel on her own, beware, she will.

Lucille Clifton, “i am accused of
tending to the past …”

momma help me turn the face of history to your face.

June Jordan,
“Gettin Down to Get Over”

On the back of the Plume edition of Toni Morrison's Beloved, reviewer John Leonard proclaims, “I can't imagine American literature without it!” Evidently intended as consummate praise, this remark would seem to congratulate Morrison for having written into the incomplete canon of American literature the very chapter of American history it had long lacked: the story of the African Americans who survived slavery. And in an important sense, Beloved is manifestly “about” the filling of historical gaps. “Sixty million and

-19-

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