33 Impossibly Beautiful Toni Morrison Quotes

In honor of her 84th birthday.

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2. "Don't tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief's wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear's caul." - The Nobel Lecture in Literature

3. "Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another." - Beloved

4. "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

6. "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."

7. "Love is never any better than the lover. " - The Bluest Eye

8. "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?" - Song of Solomon

10. "Don't ever think I fell for you, or fell over you. I didn't fall in love, I rose in it." - Jazz

11. "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." - Song of Solomon

12. "Lonely was much better than alone." - The Bluest Eye

14. "We were not strong, only aggressive; we were not free, merely licensed; we were not compassionate, we were polite; not good, but well behaved. We courted death in order to call ourselves brave, and hid like thieves from life. We substituted good grammar for intellect; we switched habits to simulate maturity; we rearranged lies and called it truth." - The Bluest Eye

15. "It is sheer good fortune to miss somebody long before they leave you." - Sula

16. "Sweet, crazy conversations full of half sentences, daydreams and misunderstandings more thrilling than understanding could ever be." - Beloved

18. "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." - Paradise

19. "As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think."

20. "It was a fine cry - loud and long - but it had no bottom and it had no top, just circles and circles of sorrow." - Sula

22. "Had she paints, or clay, or knew the discipline of the dance, or strings, had she anything to engage her tremendous curiosity and her gift for metaphor, she might have exchanged the restlessness and preoccupation with whim for an activity that provided her with all she yearned for. And like an artist with no art form, she became dangerous." - Sula

23. "I don't think a female running a house is a problem, a broken family. It's perceived as one because of the notion that a head is a man." - Conversations With Toni Morrison

24. "There is really nothing more to say - except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in how."

26. "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. Then there is the loneliness that roams. No rocking can hold it down. It is alive. On its own. A dry and spreading thing that makes the sound of one's own feet going seem to come from a far-off place." - Beloved

27. "What's the world for you if you can't make it up the way you want it?" - Jazz

28. "A dream is just a nightmare with lipstick." - Love

30. "Me and you, we got more yesterday than anybody. We need some kind of tomorrow." - Beloved

31. "The hopelessness that comes from knowing too little and feeling too much (so brittle, so dry he is in danger of the reverse: feeling nothing and knowing everything.)" - Jazz

32. "I never asked Tolstoy to write for me, a little colored girl in Lorain, Ohio. I never asked [James] Joyce not to mention Catholicism or the world of Dublin. Never. And I don't know why I should be asked to explain your life to you … If I tried to write a universal novel, it would be water." - Conversations with Toni Morrison.