Selected Toni Morrison Quotations
• Tell us what it is to be a woman so that we may know what it is to be a man. What moves at the margin. What it is to have no home in this place. To be set adrift from the one you knew. What it is to live at the edge of towns that cannot bear your company. (Nobel Lecture, 1993)
• The ability of writers to imagine what is not the self, to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar, is the test of their power.
• I really think the range of emotions and perceptions I have had access to as a black person and as a female person are greater than those of people who are neither.... So it seems to me that my world did not shrink because I was a black female writer. It just got bigger.
• When I write, I don't translate for white readers.... Dostoevski wrote for a Russian audience, but we're able to read him. If I'm specific, and I don't overexplain, then anyone can overhear me.
• When there is pain, there are no words. All pain is the same.
• If there is a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. (speech)
• What difference do it make if the thing you scared of is real or not? (from Song of Solomon)
• I think women dwell quite a bit on the duress under which they work, on how hard it is just to do it at all. We are traditionally rather proud of ourselves for having slipped creative work in there between the domestic chores and obligations. I'm not sure we deserve such big A-pluses for all that. (from Newsweek interview, 1981)
• 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.
• There is really nothing more to say -- except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in how. (from The Bluest Eye)
• Birth, life, and death -- each took place on the hidden side of a leaf.
• Beloved, you are my sister, you are my daughter, you are my face; you are me.
• I'm a Midwesterner, and everyone in Ohio is excited. I'm also a New Yorker, and a New Jerseyan, and an American, plus I'm an African-American, and a woman. I know it seems like I'm spreading like algae when I put it this way, but I'd like to think of the prize being distributed to these regions and nations and races. (Nobel Lecture, 1993)
• In Tar Baby, the classic concept of the individual with a solid, coherent identity is eschewed for a model of identity which sees the individual as a kaleidoscope of heterogeneous impulses and desires, constructed from multiple forms of interaction with the world as a play of difference that cannot be completely comprehended.
Related Resources for Toni Morrison
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About These Quotes
Quote collection assembled by Jone Johnson Lewis. Each quotation page in this collection and the entire collection © Jone Johnson Lewis 1997-2005. This is an informal collection assembled over many years. I regret that I am not be able to provide the original source if it is not listed with the quote.
Jone Johnson Lewis. "Toni Morrison Quotes." About Women's History. URL: http://womenshistory.about.com/od/quotes/toni-morrison.htm . Date accessed: (today). (More on how to cite online sources including this page)