by Gayl Jones

Paperback, 1987




Beacon Press (1987), Edition: Reprint, 192 pages


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.

User reviews

LibraryThing member BLBera
Corregidora is a raw, powerful story about the endurance of memory. Ursa Corregidora, the title character is descended from slave women who were raped by their slave owner, who fathered both her grandmother and mother. They tell Ursa the story over and over again, so that it will never be
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forgotten: "My great-grandmama told my grandmama the part she lived through that my grandmama didn't live through and my grandmama told my mama what they both lived through and my mama told me what they all lived through and we were suppose to pass it down like that from generation to generation so we'd never forget."

Ursa doesn't forget, and her relationships with men are scarred by the memories. Even her singing is informed by the memories and she notes that when she performs she is often considered a commodity. The story of her life is the story of her trying to come to terms with this past. Her relationship with Mutt, her husband, reminds me of Tea Cake and Janie's relationship in Their Eyes Were Watching God.

This novel, with its uncensored memories and raw language, is powerful. Ursa's story will stay with me for a long time.
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LibraryThing member SeriousGrace
The story of Ursa Corregidora is kick-you-in-the-teeth powerful. When we first meet Ursa Corregidora she is a 25 year old blues singer with a jealous husband. When Ursa disregards Mutt's jealousy and continues performing in the bars he throws her down a flight of stairs causing her to lose her
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month-old pregnancy. After a hysterectomy Ursa repeatedly revisits her past, reliving generations and generations of slavery and rape. She has been brought up to believe that a woman's worth lies in her ability to reproduce. Without a womb she is haunted by her ancestors. Physically, she is nursed back to health by her boss and soon his caring takes on a sexual element, one that Ursa has a hard time understanding or enjoying. And speaking of sex, there is a lot of it in Corregidora. Be forewarned, the language is necessarily harsh. This is a short but very powerful book.
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LibraryThing member caalynch
I read this short novel in college and am glad that I had the chance to re-read it 30 years later. It is a brutal account of the sexual and psychological abuses of slavery that got passed on generationally and how it effects Ursa's present day, often violent relationships with men. Written in
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plain, honest dialogue it is somewhat of a simple tale of belonging and the universal need of being loved.
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LibraryThing member banjo123
I received this book from Early Reviewers, and it was a tough, but worthwhile read. First published in 1975, this book explores the legacies of slavery especially as related to black women and sexuality/intimacy. Ursa Corregidora is a blues singer, whose mother and grandmother were both fathered by
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the same man, Simon Corregidora, a Portuguese slave master in Brazil. Jones's writing is excellent, she does a good job of representing Ursa's voice. I will note that it is sexually explicit. The book really illustrates inter-generational trauma and how tragically it has effected individual lives in the African American community.
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LibraryThing member justagirlwithabook
Corregidora was originally published in 1975, but the issues that Gayl Jones presents are timeless. The story follows a blues singer, Ursa, who struggles with her maternal history but also with her relationships in the present. Her last name, Corregidora, is her family’s legacy, as her mother and
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grandmother were both fathered by a man by this name who was a Portuguese slave master. Issues of abuse (domestic and otherwise), slavery and ownership, sexuality, and womanhood all cycle throughout the past and the present as the reader experiences Ursa’s struggle to work through both her mother’s and grandmother’s experiences but also her own current reality. This was not an “easy read” but it is an honest and important one.
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LibraryThing member heidialice
A lyrical tale narrated by a black woman coming of age in the sixties, weaving in her own story and those of her female ancestors, going back to those raped by their owners. Ursa must come to grips with her history and her mother’s and grandmother’s to make peace with her own life and
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This book is dark and stark, but never heavy. The language is plain and true and always verging on nasty. Sex, rape, race and questions about one’s heritage loom just below the surface throughout, and are looked at without filters or excuses. This was a book I chose by its cover at the library – a serendipitous find.
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LibraryThing member DeanieG
Ursa is a singer...and she's been abused, by her husband and others, but she perseveres she divorces, remarries and divorces again...she keeps singing through it all...In the end, kind of a disappointing thing she ended up doing but won't spoil it for you here.
LibraryThing member gerconk
Gayl Jones has a gift for taking the reader into the lives of her characters through the language, descriptions, and unforgettable characters. Ursa is the main character, a blues singer who has an ex-husband who abused her, and a second ex-husband who didn't stay faithful to her. Woven throughout
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the story are the stories of her mother and grandmother who were slaves owned by a slave master in Argentina. Their lives were ones of having no power and being used (and sold) by their master for sexual purposes after he fathered both of them. The story covers many years, and is an interesting and vivid portrait into the lives of Ursa and the other characters of the book.
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LibraryThing member GailNyoka
My mama told me what they all lived through and we were suppose to pass it down like that from generation to generation. (Page 7)

The generations were great-grandmother, to grandmother, to mother to daughter. What they each lived through was the legacy of slavery, even those whose direct experience
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was after slavery had ended. The slaveholder overshadowed the lives of these women, giving them a story that each held, and lived.

The story is told in the voice of Ursa Corregidora, the last in the line of these women. The legacy that they live extends to the men they take as their partners: men whose tenderness can swing to violence; men who also live the legacy of slavery. This is a difficult story in its casual cruelty, but among the generations of women is a deep love.
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LibraryThing member JGoto
This novel was very difficult for me. The characters were unlike anyone I've ever met and their experiences were beyond anything I could ever imagine. Ursa is a blues singer whose family history, dating back to slavery years, was drilled into her from childhood. The stories of rape and abuse that
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her great grandmother, grandmother, and mother experienced become an integral part of Ursa and who she is. Sexuality and abuse are themes that run through every page of the book. I was looking forward to reading this, but it was beyond me. Perhaps I will pick it up in the future and read it with better understanding.
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LibraryThing member burritapal
Um, no. I didn't like the subject matter if this book. The protagonist's sole purpose in life, she feels, is generating: babies, that is. She's young and apparently can't be without a man, and when her husband pushes her down the stairs, causing her to miscarry, doctors take out her uterus, for
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some reason. Now she's just so bummed out because she can't have a baby. I guess the author never heard of anti-natalism, climate change and NAFTA.
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LibraryThing member AudrieClifford
I can't write an interesting review of this book because I don't know how I feel about it. Yes, it's powerful, and engages the reader's sympathy, but the style is unusual and much of the language is crude. With a copyright date of 1975, it proves the author's honesty and courage.
LibraryThing member Dreesie
An interesting book that somehow feels like a play to me--even though it is not written as a script, it read like one to me. This book looks at one woman's struggles with loss, being a black woman in Kentucky and a slave, and during the 1940s. It's about women, sexuality, loss, and what the legacy
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of slavery means for her family and also within her community.

This book would make an excellent serious book club read and would lead to great discussion. There is a lot here, even though the book is quite short.
1940s, a city in Kentucky (and then 1960s in the same city in Kentucky). Ursa is a blues singer in a club. After a fight with her husband, a month needed for recovery, and a significant loss, she spends a lot of time thinking about her great-grandfather Corregidora. He owned her great-grandmother and was her grandmother's father and her mother's father. These women strongly believed in passing on their stories, and now Ursa focuses on them, on him, on what she has lost and how she feels she has let these women down.

As she recovers and goes back to work, she quickly marries again. And then switches clubs. She thinks about her middle school friend May Alice, who had a baby in 8th or 9th grade, and how she herself was so innocent while her best friend was not. And how May Alice also protected her, just as her mother and grandmother wanted to.
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LibraryThing member lauralkeet
Corregidora opens with Ursa, a jazz singer, reeling from her partner Mutt’s jealousy-fueled physical abuse. Tadpole, the jazz club owner, bans Mutt from the club and takes Ursa in after she is discharged from the hospital. Through the novel’s non-linear narrative, the reader comes to understand
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that Ursa is now no longer able to bear children. This weighs on her heavily, and not just for all the obvious reasons. Ursa, her mother, and her grandmother were all born from the sexual predations of an abusive white man named Corregidora. From early childhood Ursa was told she must “produce generations” who would testify about the wrongs done in the past, so their story is never forgotten. Ursa is devastated at not being able to carry out this promise. She is also severely traumatized by Mutt’s abuse, and seeks to put distance between them even as she continues to dwell on their relationship.

This book explores difficult themes of intergenerational trauma, related to relationships and sexuality. Its nonlinear style includes traditional narrative and internal monologue from Ursa as well as her female ancestors. While it often took me a while to figure out who was “speaking,” each of these monologues further developed Ursa’s history and character.

I read Corregidora for a class, and would not have discovered it otherwise. It was an intense and difficult read but ultimately worthwhile.
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LibraryThing member Citizenjoyce
An "Oh My Man I Love Him So" kind of book. Women being sexually abused by everyone. Strong homophobia. Women's only two purposes seem to be as the possessor of a hole to be used by others, and reproduction. The art produced by the main character is appreciated, but not as much as her hole.
LibraryThing member sleahey
The brutality of the intergenerational trauma is all the more powerful because of the first person narration. Set primarily in the late 40's the novel describes the life of Ursa, a blues singer first married to Mutt. As the story opens, he pushes her down stairs, causing a miscarriage and then
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hysterectomy. Ursa has been indoctrinated by her grandmother and mother to believe that her purpose is to create a new generation in spite of the abuse by Corregidora, the slave owner who sired her great grandmother, her grandmother, and then her mother, at the same time he sold their sex to other white men. Ursa's matrilineal traumas plague her relationships with both men and women.
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LibraryThing member MisterMelon
Got a new edition for free as an advance reader copy. Super sorry about it being some modern classic amongst some groups, but constant gratuitous language and lewdness fouled it for me. I'm not a prude but this was not enjoyable for me to read, and it certainly didn't seem to be leading toward a
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glorious reveal that would have made it all worth it. I flipped around a bit to check and see if the tenor ever changed - - it did not. May be a winner for some, but not for me.

***I received a free ARC in exchange for this clearly unbiased review.***
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LibraryThing member japaul22
This was not the book for me. Important, yes, in brutally revealing the lives of black enslaved women and their subsequent generations of daughters. But detailing domestic abuse, sexual assault, violent relationships, and graphic sex and language just was too much for me to stomach.

I feel some
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guilt when I react this way to a book. Who am I to not even be able to read about these topics when so many women lived it? But there it is. I skimmed sections and made it to the end. Barely.

Original publication date: 1975
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 176 pages
Rating: I can't rate this because I don't know wether to prioritize my reaction or the writing (which was good) or the importance of the topic
Format/where I acquired the book: ER book
Why I read this: off the shelf, Virago American author monthly challenge
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LibraryThing member eduscapes
Corregidora is a raw, sensual and brutal story of a female blues singer and her relationships with men. The book showcases violence and sexuality. Her family history begins with her ancestors lives in slavery; her mother, grandmother and great grandmother were abused by a Portuguese master in
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Argentina named Simon Corregidora. Recommended read.
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Original language

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