Penn Book has collected the best Toni Morrison Quotes from the record below. The first Lorain Ohio female writer was winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993 – Toni Morrison – inspiration to compose because nobody can take that “little black woman” seriously. The world-renowned novel “Beloved” Pulitzer Prize in 1988 and the American Book Award made her broadly well-known all across the World. She has left behind a vast body of purposeful works in inspiring individuals and taking up their power. Continue reading if you want to find out more.
About Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison was an American novelist, novelist, book editor, and college professor.
Morrison was also born in Lorain, Ohio, on February 18, 1931, as Chloe Ardelia Wofford.
Morrison received a B.A. from Howard University in 1953. Morrison graduated from Howard University in 1953 with a B.A. in English. Later, she received a master’s degree in American Literature at Cornell University.
Morrison married and had two children in 1957 after she returned to Howard University. In 1964, Morrison divorced after a few years.
She was appointed editor of fiction at Random House New York City in the 1960s. Her first novel, The Bluest Eye, was published in 1970.
Morrison’s most famous novel, “Beloved,” was published in 1987. It was inspired by Margaret Garner’s true story, an enslaved African American woman. Morrison discovered her story while compiling The Black Book.
Oprah Winfrey bought the rights to Beloved and was one of the producers. Morrison was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Beloved in 1988
Toni Morrison was given the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. This recognition brought her worldwide fame. She was the eighth and first black woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.
On May 29, 2012, President Barack Obama awarded Morrison the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was awarded the PEN/Saul Bellow Award in American Fiction in 2016.
Sula and Song of Solomon are just a few of her novels. Tar Baby is another. She also wrote short fiction and non-fiction books for children.
Toni Morrison, 88, died in New York City on August 5, 2019.
Powerful Toni Morrison Quotes
“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives,” she said during her 1993 Nobel Lecture.
“If you wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down,” she wrote in her novel Song of Solomon.
“When a kid walks in a room, your child or anybody else’s child, does your face light up? That’s what they’re looking for,” she said in a 2000 interview on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Oprah has called these words one of her biggest “aha!” moments.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reported in 1981 that, in her speech to the Ohio Arts Council, Morrison uttered what is now one of her most famous quotes: “If you find a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
For a 1987 New York Times article, she told the paper, “I don’t know if that story came because I was considering certain aspects of self-sabotage, the ways in which the best things we do so often carry seeds of one’s own destruction.”
“If you can’t imagine it, you can’t have it,” she said during a 1992 lecture in Portland, Oregon.
“I’m a believer in the power of knowledge and the ferocity of beauty, so from my point of view, your life is already artful—waiting, just waiting, for you to make it art,” she said in a 2005 graduation address at Princeton University.
“Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another,” – Toni Morrison, Beloved
Read more: Best Inspiration Audre Lorde Quotes
In Beloved, Morrison also wrote: “Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined.” – Toni Morrison
“I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else,'” she said in a November 2003 O, The Oprah Magazine interview.
She also told O in 2003: “It is easily the most empty cliché, the most useless word, and at the same time the most powerful human emotion—because hatred is involved in it, too.” ― Toni Morrison
“My world did not shrink because I was a Black female writer. It just got bigger,” she told The New York Times in 1987.
“You can do some rather extraordinary things if that’s what you really believe,” she told the NYT in 1987.
“At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough. You don’t need to photograph, paint or even remember it. It is enough,” from her 1981 novel Tar Baby.
“Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge,” she said during her Nobel Lecture.
She said during her Nobel Lecture: “Language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. Language alone is meditation.” ― Toni Morrison
In her 1992 novel Jazz, she wrote: “Don’t ever think I fell for you or fell over you. I didn’t fall in love, I rose in it.” – Toni Morrison
“Love is or it ain’t. Thin love ain’t love at all,” she wrote in Beloved.
Morrison’s work is mainly about freedom and the meaning of that word. Her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Loved, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, is based on the true story of a woman who escaped slavery and the consequences that freedom brings. Her writings on liberation can be profoundly moving and can help one to appreciate the value of independence.
“I don’t want to make somebody else. I want to make myself,” she wrote in her 1973 novel Sula.
“We mistook violence for passion, indolence for leisure, and thought recklessness was freedom,” she wrote in her first novel, The Bluest Eye.
More Toni Morrison Quotes:
“If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.” – Toni Morrison, “Song of Solomon,” 1977
“Love is never any better than the lover. Wicked people love wickedly, violent people love violently, weak people love weakly, stupid people love stupidly, but the love of a free man is never safe.” ― Toni Morrison
“You can’t own a human being. You can’t lose what you don’t own.” ― Toni Morrison
“Could you really love somebody who was absolutely nobody without you? Do you really want somebody like that? Somebody who falls apart when you walk out the door? You don’t, do you?” ― Toni Morrison
“Sweet, crazy conversations full of half sentences, daydreams, and misunderstandings more thrilling than understanding could ever be.” ― Toni Morrison
“How exquisitely human was the wish for permanent happiness, and how thin human imagination became trying to achieve it.” ― Toni Morrison
“And I am all the things I have ever loved: scuppernong wine, cool baptisms in silent water, dream books, and number playing.” ― Toni Morrison
“Lonely, ain’t it? Yes, but my lonely is mine. Now your lonely is somebody else’s. Made by somebody else and handed to you. Ain’t that something? A secondhand lonely.” ― Toni Morrison
“A writer’s life and work are not a gift to mankind; they are its necessity.” – Toni Morrison
“It is sheer good fortune to miss somebody long before they leave you.” ― Toni Morrison
“No matter what all your teeth and wet fingers anticipated, there was no accounting for the way that simple joy could shake you.” ― Toni Morrison
“Like any artist without an art form, she became dangerous.” ― Toni Morrison, Sula
“Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.” ― Toni Morrison
“You can’t own a human being. You can’t lose what you don’t own. Suppose you did own him. Could you really love somebody who was absolutely nobody without you? Do you really want somebody like that? Somebody who falls apart when you walk out the door? You don’t, do you? And neither does he. You’re turning over your whole life to him. Your whole life, girl. And if it means so little to you that you can just give it away, hand it to him, then why should it mean any more to him? He can’t value you more than you value yourself.” ― Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon
“Anger, it’s a paralyzing emotion. You can’t get anything done.” ― Toni Morrison
“There is a loneliness that can be rocked. Arms crossed, knees drawn up, holding, holding on, this motion, unlike a ship’s, smooths and contains the rocker. It’s an inside kind-wrapped tight like skin.” ― Toni Morrison
“Perhaps that’s what all human relationships boil down to: Would you save my life? or would you take it?” ― Toni Morrison
“It’s a bad word, ‘belong.’ Especially when you put it with somebody you love … You can’t own a human being.” ― Toni Morrison
“The human body is robust. It can gather strength when it’s in mortal danger.” – Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon
“Look to yourself. You free. Nothing and nobody is obliged to save you but you… Somewhere inside you is that free person I’m talking about. Locate her and let her do some good in the world.” – Toni Morrison, Home
“When fear rules, obedience is the only survival choice.” – Toni Morrison, God Help the Child
“She was the third beer. Not the first one, which the throat receives with almost tearful gratitude; nor the second, that confirms and extends the pleasure of the first. But the third, the one you drink because it’s there, because it can’t hurt, and because what difference does it make?” ― Toni Morrison
“Along with the idea of romantic love, she was introduced to another–physical beauty. Probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought. Both originated in envy, thrived in insecurity, and ended in disillusion.” ― Toni Morrison
“Love is divine only and difficult always. If you think it is easy you are a fool. If you think it is natural you are blind. It is a learned application without reason or motive except that it is God. You do not deserve love regardless of the suffering you have endured. You do not deserve love because somebody did you wrong. You do not deserve love just because you want it. You can only earn—by practice and careful contemplations—the right to express it and you have to learn how to accept it.” – Toni Morrison, Paradise
“Anything dead coming back to life hurts” ― Toni Morrison
“When am I happy and when am I sad and what is the difference? What do I need to know to stay alive? What is true in the world?” ― Toni Morrison
“But to find out the truth about how dreams die, one should never take the word of the dreamer.” ― Toni Morrison
“We never shape the world… the world shapes us.” – Toni Morrison, A Mercy
“Like friendship, hatred needed more than physical intimacy; it wanted creativity and hard work to sustain itself.” – Toni Morrison, Love
“A sister can be seen as someone who is both ourselves and very much not ourselves – a special kind of double.” ― Toni Morrison
“To be given dominion over another is a hard thing; to wrest dominion over another is a wrong thing; to give dominion of yourself to another is a wicked thing.” – Toni Morrison
“Did you ever see the way the clouds love a mountain? They circle all around it; sometimes you can’t even see the mountain for the clouds. But you know what? You go up top and what do you see? His head. The clouds never cover the head. His head pokes through because the clouds let him; they don’t wrap him up. They let him keep his head up high, free, with nothing to hide him or bind him.” – Toni Morrison
“In this country, American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.” ― Toni Morrison
“Sifting daylight dissolves the memory, turns it into dust motes floating in the light.” ― Toni Morrison
“There is really nothing more to say except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in how.” ― Toni Morrison
“She is a friend of my mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order.” – Toni Morison
“Make up a story… For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.” ― Toni Morrison, The Nobel Lecture In Literature, 1993
“You couldn’t learn age, but adulthood was there for all.” – Toni Morrison, Home
“What you do to children matters. And they might never forget.” – Toni Morrison, God Help the Child
“Let me tell you something. A man ain’t a goddamn ax. Chopping, hacking, busting every goddamn minute of the day. Things get to him. Things he can’t chop down because they’re inside.” ― Toni Morrison
“Certain seeds it will not nurture, certain fruit it will not bear and when the land kills of its own volition, we acquiesce and say the victim had no right to live.” ― Toni Morrison
“All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was.” ― Toni Morrison
“If you’re going to hold” ― Toni Morrison
“As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think.” ― Toni Morrison
“I would solve a lot of literary problems just thinking about a character in the subway, where you can’t do anything anyway.” ― Toni Morrison
“You are your best thing.” ― Toni Morrison
“Pain. I seem to have an affection, a kind of sweettooth for it. Bolts of lightning, little rivulets of thunder. And I the eye of the storm.” ― Toni Morrison
“The function of freedom is to free someone else.” ― Toni Morrison
“Anger … it’s a paralyzing emotion … you can’t get anything done. People sort of think it’s an interesting, passionate, and igniting feeling — I don’t think it’s any of that — it’s helpless … it’s absence of control — and I need all of my skills, all of the control, all of my powers … and anger doesn’t provide any of that — I have no use for it whatsoever.” ― Toni Morrison
“I’m not entangled in shaping my work according to other people’s views of how I should have done it.” ― Toni Morrison
“What a man leaves behind is what a man is.” – Toni Morrison, A Mercy
“Death is a sure thing but life is just as certain. Problem is you can’t know in advance.” – Toni Morrison, Home
“Love is never any better than the lover. Wicked people love wickedly, violent people love violently, weak people love weakly, stupid people love stupidly, but the love of a free man is never safe. There is no gift for the beloved. The lover alone possesses his gift of love. The loved one is shorn, neutralized, frozen in the glare of the lover’s inward eye.” ― Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye
“If you’re going to hold someone down you’re going to have to hold on by the other end of the chain. You are confined by your own repression” ― Toni Morrison
“When good people take you in and treat you good, you ought to try to be good back.” – Toni Morrison, Beloved
“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” ― Toni Morrison