Authors: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A collection of thoughts and quotes by Toni Morrison on books, writing, burdens, freedom, flying, empowerment, self, emotion, love, insanity, art and story.

100 Powerful Toni Morrison Quotes

Quick Facts

Famous As: American novelist

Born On: February 18, 1931

Born In: Lorain, Ohio

Toni Morrison is an award-winning American novelist, editor and professor. She was born in a modest family and her interest in writing was cultivated by her parents. She attended the University of Howard to pursue her passion for literature. She started off her career as a professor of English at Howard for the next seven years. During this period she had befriended a group of writers inside the university and started writing her first novel with them. She then moved to New York to work as a senior editor at a renowned publishing house. Her debut novel ‘The Bluest Eye’ brought her modest success but her next book ‘Sula’ was a huge hit. It was well–accepted by the masses and was nominated for the ‘American Book Award’. She followed up with various books to enhance her reputation as a writer. Her books were very expressive in depicting black America. Her significant contributions to the literary world have been honored with various awards including the most renowned ‘Noble Prize’ and ‘Pulitzer Prize’. Go through these quotes and thoughts by the acclaimed writer which tends to hold a very deep meaning. Take a look at the famous collection of quotations and sayings by Toni Morrison that convey a powerful message on race, friendship, labels, love and life.

Listed In:

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

Toni Morrison

You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.

Toni Morrison

Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.

Toni Morrison

Love is or it ain't. Thin love ain't love at all.

Toni Morrison

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.

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 Morrison

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

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

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

Toni Morrison

Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined.

Toni Morrison

Like any artist without an art form, she became dangerous.

Toni Morrison

You are your best thing

Toni Morrison

In this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.

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

What difference do it make if the thing you scared of is real or not?

Toni Morrison

Love is never any better than the lover.

Toni Morrison

The function of freedom is to free someone else.

Toni Morrison

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

Toni Morrison

If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.

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

He wants to put his story next to hers.

Toni Morrison

It is sheer good fortune to miss somebody long before they leave you.

Toni Morrison

A sister can be seen as someone who is both ourselves and very much not ourselves - a special kind of double.

Toni Morrison

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

Toni Morrison

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

Toni Morrison

Lonely was much better than alone.

Toni Morrison

Anything dead coming back to life hurts.

Toni Morrison

All paradises, all utopias are designed by who is not there, by the people who are not allowed in. [Conversation with Elizabeth Farnsworth, PBS NewsHour, March 9, 1998]

Toni Morrison

If they put an iron circle around your neck I will bite it away

Toni Morrison

A dream is just a nightmare with lipstick.

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

We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.

Toni Morrison

She is a friend of mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order. It's good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind.

Toni Morrison

Anger is better. There is a sense of being in anger. A reality and presence. An awareness of worth. It is a lovely surging.

Toni Morrison

All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was.

Toni Morrison

I dream a dream that dreams back at me

Toni Morrison

To get to a place where you could love anything you chose--not to need permission for desire--well now _that_ was freedom.

Toni Morrison

Not knowing it was hard; knowing it was harder

Toni Morrison

They encouraged you to put some of your weight in their hands and soon as you felt how light and lovely it was, they studied your scars and tribulations...

Toni Morrison

Something that is loved is never lost.

Toni Morrison

What I think the political correctness debate is really about is the power to be able to define. The definers want the power to name. And the defined are now taking that power away from them.

Toni Morrison

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

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)

Toni Morrison

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

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

Toni Morrison

What's the world for you if you can't make it up the way you want it?

Toni Morrison

Beauty was not simply something to behold; it was something one could do.

Toni Morrison

She learned the intricacy of loneliness: the horror of color, the roar of soundlessness and the menace of familiar objects lying still.

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

Today is always here,' said Sethe. 'Tomorrow, never.

Toni Morrison

The presence of evil was something to be first recognized, then dealt with, survived, outwitted, triumphed over.

Toni Morrison

Black literature is taught as sociology, as tolerance, not as a serious, rigorous art form.

Toni Morrison

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.

Toni Morrison

But to find out the truth about how dreams die, one should never take the word of the dreamer.

Toni Morrison

Was it hard? I hope she didn't die hard.' Sethe shook her head. 'Soft as cream. Being alive was the hard part.

Toni Morrison

When you gone to get married? You need to have some babies. It’ll settle you.' 'I don’t want to make somebody else. I want to make myself.

Toni Morrison

But the picking out, the choosing. Don't ever think I fell for you, or fell over you. I didn't fall in love, I rose in it. I saw you and made up my mind. My mind.

Toni Morrison

There in the center of that silence was not eternity but the death of time and a loneliness so profound the word itself had no meaning.

Toni Morrison

I don't think anybody cares about unwed mothers unless they're black or poor. The question is not morality, the question is money. That's what we're upset about.

Toni Morrison

Sunk in the grass of an empty lot on a spring Saturday, I split the stems of milkweed and thought about ants and peach pits and death and where the world went when I closed my eyes.

Toni Morrison

He licked his lips. ‘Well, if you want my opinion-‘ ‘I don’t, ‘ She said. ‘I have my own.

Toni Morrison

I wish I’d a knowed more people. I would of loved ‘em all. If I’d a knowed more, I would a loved more

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

I wrote my first novel because I wanted to read 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

It never looked as terrible as it was and it made her wonder if hell was a pretty place too. Fire and brimstone all right, but hidden in lacy groves.

Toni Morrison

Everything depends on knowing how much,” she said, and “Good is knowing when to stop.

Toni Morrison

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.

Toni Morrison

You looking good." "Devil's confusion. He lets me look good long as I feel bad.

Toni Morrison

If you surrender to the wind you can ride it.

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. It's good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind.

Toni Morrison

He leans over and takes her hand. With the other he touches her face. ‘You your best thing, Sethe. You are.’ His holding fingers are holding hers. ‘Me? Me?

Toni Morrison

We mistook violence for passion, indolence for leisure, and thought recklessness was freedom.

Toni Morrison

You looked at me then like you knew me, and I thought it really was Eden, and I couldn't take your eyes in because I was loving the hoof marks on your cheeks.

Toni Morrison

In Ohio seasons are theatrical. Each one enters like a prima donna, convinced its performance is the reason the world has people in it.

Toni Morrison

I had only one desire: to dismember it. To see of what it was made, to discover the dearness, to find the beauty, the desirability that had escaped me, but apparently only me.

Toni Morrison

...the change was adjustment without improvement.

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

For me, Art is the restoration of order. It may discuss all sort of terrible things, but there must be satisfaction at the end. A little bit of hunger, but also satisfaction.

Toni Morrison

You got two feet, Sethe, not four." he said, and right then a forest sprang up between them; tactless and quiet.

Toni Morrison

Love is divine only and difficult always.

Toni Morrison

You been gone too long, Sula. Not too long, but maybe too far.

Toni Morrison

You your best thing, Sethe. You are.

Toni Morrison

Say make me, remake me. You are free to do it and I am free to let you because look, look. Look where your hands are. Now.

Toni Morrison

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 a free man is never safe.

Toni Morrison

The loss pressed down on her chest and came up into her throat. it was a fine cry -- loud and long -- but it had no bottom and no top, just circles and circles of sorrow.

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

Sifting daylight dissolves the memory, turns it into dust motes floating in light.

Toni Morrison

How exquisitely human was the wish for permanent happiness, and how thin human imagination became trying to achieve it.

Toni Morrison

For now he knew what Shalimar knew: If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.

Toni Morrison

How come it can't fly no better than a chicken?" "Too much tail. All that jewelry weighs it down. Like vanity. Wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.

Toni Morrison

Now he knew why he loved her so. Without ever leaving the ground, she could fly. 'There must be another one like you,' he whispered to her. 'There's got to be at least one more woman like you.

Toni Morrison

I write the way women have babies. You don't know it's going to be like that. If you did, there's no way you would go through with it.

Toni Morrison

I get angry about things, then go on and work.

Toni Morrison

No matter how hard we try to ignore it, the mind always knows truth and wants clarity.

Toni Morrison

Perhaps that's what all human relationships boil down to: Would you save my life? or would you take it?

Toni Morrison

You don't have to love me but you damn well have to respect me.

Toni Morrison

The real hell of Hell is that it is forever.' Sula said that. She said doing anything forever and ever was hell.

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

O Lord, Sula,” she cried, “girl, girl, girlgirlgirl.” It was a fine cry—loud and long—but it had no bottom and it had no top, just circles and circles of sorrow.

Toni Morrison