Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 October 2019

'At some point in life the world's beauty becomes enough' – 14 inspirational Toni Morrison quotes

The Nobel Prize-winning author died earlier this week at the age of 88

When news came through on Tuesday that the American author Toni Morrison had died at the age of 88, it was striking how quickly people began posting on social media the powerful things she had said or favourite lines from her novels.

It is no exaggeration to say that the author, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993, had a profound and lasting impact on the lives of many millions of her readers.

Here are a selection of some of Morrison's most inspirational words.

On writing

"If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it."

"Writing is really a way of thinking, not just feeling but thinking about things that are disparate, unresolved, mysterious, problematic or just sweet."

"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."

On race

"There is no such thing as race. None. There is just a human race – scientifically, anthropologically. Racism is a construct, a social construct and it has benefits. Money can be made off of it, people who don't like themselves can feel better because of it, it can describe certain kinds of behaviour that are wrong or misleading, so it has a social function, racism."

"Being a black woman writer is not a shallow place but a rich place to write from. It doesn't limit my imagination; it expands it. It's richer than being a white male writer because I know more and I've experienced more."

"I always looked upon the acts of racist exclusion, or insult, as pitiable, for the other person. I never absorbed that. I always thought that there was something deficient about such people."

On love

"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."

"Love is never any better than the lover."

"Could you really love somebody who was absolutely nobody without you? You really want somebody like that? Somebody who falls apart when you walk out the door? You don't, do you?"

From her novels

"Freeing yourself was one thing. Claiming ownership of that freed self was another." – Beloved, 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. No record of it needs to be kept and you don't need someone to share it with or tell it to. When that happens – that letting go – you let go because you can." –Tar Baby, 1981

"It's a bad word, 'belong'. Especially when you put it with somebody you love... You can't own a human being." – Song of Solomon, 1977

"I don't think many people appreciate silence or realise that it is as close to music as you can get." – God Help the Child, 2015

"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." – A Mercy, 2008

Updated: August 7, 2019 01:21 PM

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