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3.90  ·  Rating details ·  2,371 ratings  ·  194 reviews
Here is Gayl Jones's classic novel, the tale of blues singer Ursa, consumed by her hatred of the nineteenth-century slave master who fathered both her grandmother and mother.

From the back cover: "History and fiction have yielded little about those black slave women who were mistress and breeder to their white owners. There are some facts and figures, but they tell us
Paperback, 192 pages
Published February 15th 1987 by Beacon Press (first published 1975)
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Average rating 3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,371 ratings  ·  194 reviews

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Feb 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: african-american
"You asked me how did I get so beautiful. It wasn't him. No, not Corregidora. And my spirit, you said, like knives dancing. My veins are centuries meeting."

There are some books that are just so merciless you wonder how on earth the characters even manage to survive all that brutality. But they do and then you wonder how they deal with all that accumulated pain and whether they can live a “normal” life. This book deals with some difficult topics such as slavery, domestic violence, and rape. It
Oct 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is Gayl Jones’s first novel, published in 1975. It is set in the 1940s, with a brief move forward to the 1960s at the end. It also moves back to Brazil and a Portuguese slave owner called Simon Corregidora. The protagonist is Ursa, a blues singer whose line through her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother goes back to Corregidora. The present day is set mainly in Kentucky.
Jones looks back on the physical enslavement of black women through the generations of one family and draws
Jul 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
plantation violence is sexual violence is state violence. girl, this is some drama. i don't know how i feel about the ending. it's all a mess. i was kind of shocked that after the clear analysis that it settled. but was it really settling? is it just an ongoingness that is familiar, and comforting in its familiarity? i felt comfort in this harrowing intergenerational storytelling of plantation sexual violence? is it because it played toward a truthful account of history? was recognizable? or was ...more
Eric Anderson
Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t come across Gayl Jones’ writing before learning about this new edition of “Corregidora” being reissued by Virago Modern Classics. It was originally published in 1975 with the help of Toni Morrison who was working as an editor at Random House at the time. Morrison famously stated “that no novel about any black woman could ever be the same after this” and the influence “Corregidora” had on Morrison is very evident. It certainly must have partly inspired her novel “ ...more
Corregidora is an intense exploration of sex, desire, and history. Ursa, the protagonist, struggles with her own sexuality, her womanhood, and her responsibility to bear witness to the horrible history of enslavement that her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother instill in her. Their storytelling and passing along of this history is both a necessary way of remembering that past which has created the present and a form of abuse that prevents her from fully living her own life.

I wanted a song that would touch me, touch my life and theirs. A Portuguese song, but not a Portuguese song. A new world song. A song branded with the new world. I thought of the girl who had to sleep with her master and mistress. Her father, the master. Her daughter's father. The father of her daughter's daughter. How many generations?
February has been good for relieving the drought in my state and bad at maintaining my mental health. The ongoing drought (ha) in my reviewing enforced by
Timothy Urges
Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I am Ursa Corregidora. I have tears for eyes. I was made to touch my past at an early age. I found it on my mother’s tiddies. In her milk. Let no one pollute my music. I will dig out their temples. I will pluck out their eyes.

It’s in the blood.
Missy J
Aug 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is not for the faint-hearted. Gayl Jones wrote a very dark and painful novel here.
Ursa, a blues singer is repeatedly told by her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother "to make generations" so that their suffering will never be forgotten. You see, the Portuguese Brazilian owner of Ursa's great-grandmother had not only ripped apart the documents, but he also fathered Ursa's grandmother and mother.

This traumatic experience of sexual violence and incest becomes a distressing fact
Apr 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
I realized today that the only reason I was pushing through this book was to say that I'd read it. But that's not enough reason to read nearly 200 pages, so I stopped somewhere after page 100. Everyone speaks so highly of it and of Gayl Jones as a writer. I might need to check out her other work because this one lost me on almost every other page.
Mocha Girl
Oct 20, 2009 rated it liked it
From the time that Ursa Corregidora is able to listen, she is told by her great-grandmother that she must retain "the evidence" in order to pass it on to her children. Initially, one would think this is a harmless request. However, "the evidence" is an oral history of how her great-grandmother was raped and then used as a whore by her white slave owner, Corregidora, as was her daughter (Ursa's grandmother) after her. Corregidora then impregnates Ursa's grandmother (his biological daughter) to ...more
Feb 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015, owned-books
This is a pretty disturbing and powerful book. If you've ever listened to blues, then you know the feeling this book will give you. This is a "blues" novel, to be sure.

Set in the 1940s, Blues singer Ursa Corregidora is haunted by the past -- not so much her own, but rather the past of her great grandmother, her grandmother, and her mother. Simon Corregidora, a slave owner, raped both Ursa's great grandmother and grandmother. They obsessively tell the story of all this -- the rape, the torture,
Jay Sandover
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Are you still there?"

This is a beautiful novel about bearing witness and bearing witnesses, asking questions and listening to the answers, about American history, slavery and personal history. It engages, I think, with Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! in its structure and concerns. That earlier novel also depicts a woman speaking and a witness to her story, but it is put to entirely different ends.

"She stopped. I didn't ask her to go on. I knew she would go on when she was ready."

This line above
Feb 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I first read this novel more than 10 years ago and it became a favorite because I could easily identify it as a blues novel. However, upon re-reading just a few days ago, I was reminded of why Gayl Jones is my favorite author. There was so much more to this novel that I understand better after a decade. The importance of history and "generations" is something that would have gotten past me years ago, but I see how it forms the central point of the novel now. Jones has a way with words and ...more
Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I finished reading Corregidora by Gayl Jones on a Friday night—an unlikely choice for weekend reading. The book weighed heavy on me even as I sat down to process some of my own thoughts about the book, which were in a frenzy after their encounter with a rather unsettling ending.

Corregidora is not for the weak-hearted. You have to brace yourself for its story of Ursa, a Blues singer in Kentucky, who is charged with the burden of carrying forward the legacy of slavery and oppression that her
Feb 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: diaspora, book-club
Gayl Jones Corregidora is an unsettling tale that describes the generational effects of slavery. Simon Corregidora was a Brazilian slave master who used his slaves as prostitutes and raped them so that they would bear his seed. Father to both her mother and grandmother, Ursa Corregidora is his legacy. She has spent most of her life listening to her grandmother’s narratives of his abuse. Urged to “make generations” so that she too could leave oral evidence of these crimes, Ursa is consumed with ...more
Zeineb Nouira
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shocking is an understatement when talking about this book which hurled me into every state of shocked disgust.

Since it was assigned to me as a part of a course concerned with trauma, the marks of violence and the poetics of witnessing as an ethical mission, I can honestly say that this piece of work transmitted some of its darkness to me.

By going back and forth between a woman's past of sexual traumas and present of physical and emotional anguish, this book is one hell of a ride.

Gayl Jones
Khemauset Ankh
Oct 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Corregidora! Wow! this is a powerful little novel. It's small in page numbers, and it is HUGE in theme. It is the epitome of Black women's fiction in under 250 pages. It is painful, it is uplifting; It is informative.

This is a stellar effort while she was still in grad school. Quite Gayl Jones: Still waters run deep, for sure!

Great Read!
Mar 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fab-16, woc-16
An explicit look at sexuality in some very tangled relationships; a rather twisted love story. There’s lots of pain here, paralyzing grief, crushing burdens from the past, an inability to determine one’s own desires, but I found it deeply satisfying. I love the immediacy, the straightforwardness of the writing style. Absolutely beautiful!!!
Jeff Jackson
Jan 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club-2
John Pistelli
Aug 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
The cover of this edition makes it look like a horror movie--and that's not at all wrong. An intense novel, terse as a modern lyric, a monologue organized around its central image: the three generations of women in the house, telling over and over to the child of the fourth generation the story of the brutal incestuous pimp and rapist slave-owner Corregidora, the father of the heroine's grandmother and her mother, hence the source of her surname. The women transmit the trauma to the child ...more
Feb 28, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
A disturbing but beautiful novel that illuminates some of the psychological residue of slavery on the descendants of enslaved people. One thing that I also appreciate is the fact Jones's writing acknowledges that the legacy of New World slavery is a diasporic issue, shaping the historical trajectories of people throughout the Americas.
Sidik Fofana
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
SIX WORD REVIEW: Slave and relationship history, the same.
Jul 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My review of this book has been long overdue - even though nobody was probably waiting for it in the first place, which does provide some solace. Usually, I'm quite swift in reviewing books, so it's a bit strange for me to come back to a book which I read in one sitting, not really feeling all that engaged by it in the first place.

'Corregidora' is one of those books that is concerned with the legacy of slavery in American culture. More specifically, 'Corregidora' is about those people with mixed
Feb 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
Okay, please let me rave about this book.
Ehem, ehem.
Well, this book was going to get like a 3/3.5 rating from me until the last 2 pages.
YES! Crazy, right?
This book was entertaining! It was like nothing I had read before, honestly and it made me feel interested.
Lots of sexy time scenes but with deep meaning, a cruel historical background, feelings, secrets, family stories, well, lots of different things all together and promising.
But the real issue comes in the end, in the last two
This is a brutal book, to be sure, but I read it in one fell swoop, mainly because I knew I couldn't stand to dwell.

Margo Jefferson's review is accurate:

"History and fiction have yielded little about those black slave women who were mistress and breeder to their white owners. There are some facts and figures, but they tell us nothing about the women themselves: their motives, their emotions, and the memories they passed on to their children. Gayl Jones' first novel is a gripping portrait of this
Sep 10, 2010 rated it did not like it
In a similar style as Toni Morrison, this novel discusses the issues of feminine identity in the African-American culture just after the Emancipation. My issues with this novel are the same I typically have with books by Morrison--I'm okay with feminist issues, I'm okay with racial issues, and I'm okay with sexual issues, but when you combine them, it tends to be a bit much. I also find the profanity distracting rather than an aid to the novel. Perhaps because of these reasons, I had a difficult ...more
Feb 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2005, noteworthy
A poetic and gritty masterpiece. The prose is sexual and violent, but at the same time vulnerable. I feel like this book did for me what Beloved never quite could. It's so very raw and not as dependent on this idea about motherhood that always seemed like a stumbling block in teaching a book to high school or college students. It's not for the easily offended or upset, though. Although it artfully implies a lot more than outright tells it is pretty graphic and physiologically intense. There is ...more
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Not sure what to say at the moment.
It was my first work by Jones, and while it was explicit and brutally open I am glad to have read it. Corregidora is a story that is likely to linger with some. This story does a great job showing how difficult it can be to process trauma, and that unpacking experiences can be, and often are, a lifelong process. It's important to be able to hear and read stories that address the ramifications of abuses whether sexual, verbal or psychological even if some of
Jun 05, 2007 rated it really liked it
Im not sure how I want to rate this. I want to give it a 5, and a 3. I would give it a 5, but it left me so confused and raw feeling. So maybe that makes it deserve the 5 actually. I dont know. But I think I have a literary answer for anyone who asks me why I study psychological issues related to WoC (women of color).
Mar 19, 2011 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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500 Great Books B...: Corregidora - Gayl Jones 2 19 May 07, 2016 09:52PM  

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Gayl Jones (born November 23, 1949) is an African-American writer from Lexington, Kentucky. Her most famous works are Corregidora, Eva's Man, and The Healing.

Jones is a 1971 graduate of Connecticut College, where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English. While attending the college she also earned the Frances Steloff Award for Fiction. She then began a graduate program in creative
“She was closed up like a fist. It her very own memory, not theirs, her very own real and terrible and lonely and dark memory.” 5 likes
“It was as if she had more than learned it off by heart. Though. it was as if their memory, the memory of all the Corregidora women, was her memory too, as strong with her as her own private memory, or almost as strong. But now she was Mama again.” 3 likes
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