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The Origin of Others

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  1,189 ratings  ·  218 reviews
America's foremost novelist reflects on the themes that preoccupy her work and increasingly dominate national and world politics: race, fear, borders, the mass movement of peoples, the desire for belonging. What is race and why does it matter? What motivates the human tendency to construct Others? Why does the presence of Others make us so afraid?

Drawing on her Norton Lect
Hardcover, 114 pages
Published September 18th 2017 by Harvard University Press (first published 2016)
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Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I wish I was 1/8 as smart as Toni Morrison’s thumb.
Jon(athan) Nakapalau
Toni Morrison has long been on my list of authors to read - but I never seem to have time to make for her. Now I will - this book was beyond any expectations I had. I can truly say that this slim volume has opened my eyes wide to so many issues in which we make other people 'Others' who are not like us - and hence do not deserve the same consideration we give to those we consider like 'Us'. This book should be right alongside The True Believer by Eric Hoffer - highest recommendation.
Honestly Toni Morrison could write her drink order on a napkin and I would love it.
«L’enfer c’est les autres» [A porte chiuse- Jean-Paul Sartre]

Questo testo recentemente pubblicato in Italia, raccoglie gli interventi di Toni Morrison ad un ciclo di conferenze tenute nel 2016 presso l’Università di Harvard.
L’edizione italiana è introdotta da Roberto Saviano che riflette sulle conseguenze dell'uso improprio e reiterato nel tempo, del termine “razzismo”.
Sfruttato e mal utilizzato tanto da arrivare oggi ad essere snobbato come attacco a chi vuole esprimere la propria opinion
Book Riot Community
DISCLAIMER: I have not read this book, which is the transcripts of a series of lectures Morrison gave about the themes that preoccupy her books. But I feel like it’s not getting any press anywhere, and how can that be, when people need to know that there’s a new ToMo book out in the world!!! And even better, with an introduction by Ta-Nehisi Coates! Consider yourself informed now.

Backlist bump: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Tune in to our weekly podcast dedicated to all things new
Sue Dix
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Since this book only took me a day to read, I will likely go back and read it again. Contained in it's 111 pages is so much that cannot possibly be absorbed in one read through. From the introduction through to the end of the 6th lecture, there is so much that we still need to learn, that I still need to learn. To deconstruct the "Other", we must know her and face her and realize that she is us. "Race is the classification of a species, and we are the human race, period." I highly recommend this ...more
Dec 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I honestly put this on my reading list because, I mean, it's Toni Morrison. But it gets 5 stars not just because it's Morrison, but because she is genius. This tiny book packs so much into just a few pages. For a lover of Morrison's body of literature this is a treat or an invitation for those new to Morrison. I have often been troubled by the way that "celebrated" white writers have treated race and the Other in their work and Morrison articulated it in a way that I never could. I highly recomm ...more
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Separating the "us" from the "other" has been used to strengthen the "us" in order to have a common enemy. It's a strategy to peg groups of people against each other. Toni Morrison's reviews this concept of "othering" with examples in literary works of her own and of other authors. This collection of essays is very current in the light of the political climate in the USA, but also on a grander scale due to globalization and the refugee crisis in Europe.
Jul 08, 2018 rated it liked it
While I liked this a lot, it felt like Morrison could have gone a little deeper. Maybe it's only meant to serve as an intro to her works, as opposed to fully-fleshed out analytical essays. Worth reading!

3.5 stars.

The Origin of Others is a collection of lectures, delivered at Harvard University in 2016, that serves as a potent and relevant read. The lectures explore the theme of "Othering," that is the act of defining/creating the outsider. It's funny how this book feels simultaneous
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feminism
On ne se lasse jamais de la plume de Toni Morrison, douce et si ferme à la fois.
Ses six conférences données à Harvard en 2016 sont retranscrites ici, avec pour thème "Pourquoi la race est-elle un facteur de différenciations?". Problématique commune à de nombreux pays. Elle aborde ces questions en partant de l'esclavage jusqu'aux vagues de migrations contemporaines.
Comme toujours avec l'incroyable Toni Morrison ces textes sont brillants et éclairants.
Joslyn Allen
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Review published: https://chronicbibliophilia.wordpress...

"Language (saying, listening, reading) can encourage, even mandate, surrender, the breach of distances among us, whether they are continental or on the same pillow, whether they are distances of culture or the distinctions and indistinctions of age or gender, whether they are the consequences of social invention or biology."

On this day - September 12, 2017 - the newest works of two heavyweights are being released to likely widely differin
Aug 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
A great series of essays (lectures, really) concerning the Other (who that is and how they are classified) and how literature contextualizes the constructs of how we view them. There’s a lot of food for thought here and I loved that Morrison pulled examples from her novels and provided insight into the artistic decisions she made to address race, class, and “the Other”. In his introduction to the text, Ta-Nehisi Coates calls Morrison “one of the finest writers and thinkers this country has ever ...more
David Rush
Oct 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Race it the classification of a species and we are the human race, period. Then what is this other thing – the hostility, the social racism, the Othering? Pg. 15

I especially appreciated the first part of this book with its focus of “Being or Becoming the Stranger” which is really the starting point to think about racism. I suppose the idea of “the Other” it is a starting point for thinking about humans in all aspects of engagement with the world and could be applied to not just people, but anima
Aug 03, 2018 rated it liked it
I appreciate when my favorite writers do double duty as novelists, as well as critics. (See also, Chinua Achebe's adapted lectures and works of criticism. Morrison is indeed in conversation with him). For the most part, I found the lectures accessible and illuminating. For instance, I don't think I've noticed Morrison's refusal to explicitly racialize her characters, even though she has also made it quite clear that she is writing about Black people. I also appreciated that she references he
Oct 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary, non-fic
I enjoyed Toni Morrison's explanations of how she incorporated various dynamics of race into different of her fictions. I appreciated how she was explaining how she used fiction to attempt to explore and understand the constructs of blackness and whiteness and otherness. Her discussions about how "othering" others reduces people from individuals to non-human ciphers on which one can project what one wants for their own benefit reminds me of one of the themes explored in Infinite Jest.
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I remembering seeing Toni Morrison speak about 20 years ago. Her book Paradise had just come out, and she read sections from it. This book, a transcript of her 2016 lectures, reminds me of that experience. In many of these lectures, Morrison shares how Paradise and several other of her books illuminate the complexities of "otherness" and also how they connect to our polarized political climate today. I really appreciated hearing her commentary about the books I've read (about half) and I'd like ...more
Jan 11, 2018 rated it liked it
I read this book pretty quickly and I enjoyed it. I don’t want my low ranking to scare anyone away. I’ve watched Morrison’s lectures on YouTube and I was pretty excited to read this one. Unfortunately it covered topics that I’ve already heard her speak/write about, so I felt disappointed and I definitely wanted to read more.
Sep 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting that she dives into her own fiction to elucidate some of the issues of race and power structures in America that her novels already seems to embody. I was hoping these lectures turned essays would ride closer to Playing in the Dark - as in a close reading of Hemingway and Faulkner and O'Connor. Some points I wish were further explored. Guess I just have to wait for her next novel!
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating book by Ms Toni Morrison! It’s gives the reason why race matters from 6 different perspectives and literary examples to support them. I love a book that gives me even more books to read! 😁
Rod-Kelly Hines
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It was too short!!! Toni Morrison is simply brilliant and of course I enjoyed this insightful little collection of the essays!
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, essay
thoughts coming shortly
Havebooks Willread
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: black-interest
Toni Morrison is one of those people who thinks on such a higher plane than I do that I am wowed every time I read something of hers. I am certain I only grasped a small percentage of the gems she shares in this short collection of lectures and could benefit from a re-reading in a few years.

I especially enjoyed the way she examined the role race plays in literature, referencing and discussing works by people such as Hemingway, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Flannery O'Connor, Joseph Conrad, and her own
D.A. Gray
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
These six lectures take the reader through coded language designed by the powers that be to differentiate between who belongs in the group and who does not. Morrison pulls from different stages of American history, from antebellum history to the most active periods of immigration in the late 19th and early 20th century to Jim Crow to our more recent history.

This exploration challenges a whitewashed view of not only history but a culture which is defined in the States more by color than by any re
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I admit to believing Toni Morrison’s writing is perfect. Reading The Origin of Others only reinforces this belief. This book is an examination of prevalent themes in Morrison’s work such as color-ism, racism, and slavery especially in the novels Paradise, Beloved, and The Bluest Eye. Why is literature set up so that one group is seen as acceptable, wholly realized individuals and any person not belonging to that group seen as other or less than? We know literature most likely is rooted in realit ...more
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, race
"The Origin of Others" is a short but powerful book. It is based on the series of Norton lectures that Toni Morrison delivered at Harvard in 2016. In it she discusses the human concept of Otherness. Where does this come from? What makes us fear and hate people we perceive as different from us? Why do we need to identify people as "Others"? Drawing on examples from literature, both her own and other American writers, Ms. Morrison delves into the history of race and racism in America.
It is amazing
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-reads
Every time I hear that Toni Morrison has published a new book I immediately make room/space to digest her words. Thus it was with The Origin of Others. At 118 pages and almost pocket size it is a short but mighty read. Morrison references her (and others) work to name the continued atrocities of racism and 'othering'. She names how social and dehumanizing constructions of 'race' continue to violate and oppress others.

Morrison's words are powerful and insightful. The last few pages focus on Cama
Sarah Weathersby
Oct 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: african-american
Ta-Nehesi Coates wrote the 16-page Foreword for this book. (A book of 114 pages that fit in the palm of my hand) He has remarkable insight into the challenges of black people dealing with racism.

But when it comes to Toni Morrison, what is an "Other?" Ms. Morrison's text does not use the word "race," but characterizes "Others," by the ways in which they interact. They can be male or female, sometimes ghosts that walk. If you have read her book "Beloved," you know what "Others" can be.
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2018
Toni Morrison will forever be my literary lodestar, and the insight into her mind as she confronts the idea of the Other is beyond special to me. This small collection of her 2016 Norton Lectures at Harvard is both timely and timeless. I fear we will never escape the consequences of slavery and the mental and moral magic act necessary to build a society on the backs of slaves, but at least we have Morrison (and Coates) to help us understand and try to do better.
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
A powerful and compelling transcribed lecture that examines othering in life and in literature, including the author's own works.

As wonderful and thoughtful as the nonfiction parts are, I most cherished a long except from _Beloved_ that lands near the end of the book. I've read _Beloved_ 3 times, and I'm glad to know it can still hit me right between the eyes.... [warning: it's very much a love it or hate it kind of book].
Kris - My Novelesque Life
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it

This collection of essays are speeches by written by Toni Morrison. This is a short collection but Morrison is on point. The issues brought up in this book (race, culture and the idea of "others") are powerful and well supported. I recommend this book to everyone as it inspires great dialogue of what we should be accepting.
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Toni Morrison (born Chloe Anthony Wofford), is an American author, editor, and professor who won the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature for being an author "who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality."

Her novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed African American characters; among the best k
“The danger of sympathizing with the stranger is the possibility of becoming a stranger. To lose one’s racial-ized rank is to lose one’s own valued and enshrined difference.” 0 likes
“Narrative fiction provides a controlled wilderness, an opportunity to be and to become the Other. The stranger. With sympathy, clarity, and the risk of self-examination.” 0 likes
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