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The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  1,481 ratings  ·  223 reviews
Arguably the most celebrated and revered writer of our time now gives us a new nonfiction collection--a rich gathering of her essays, speeches, and meditations on society, culture, and art, spanning four decades.

The Source of Self-Regard is brimming with all the elegance of mind and style, the literary prowess and moral compass that are Toni Morrison's inimitable hallmark.
Hardcover, 354 pages
Published February 12th 2019 by Knopf Publishing Group
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Joshunda Sanders
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review was originally published for Bitch Media on February 12, 2019:

Toni Morrison began writing her seminal debut novel, The Bluest Eye, more than 40 years ago as a way to cure her own loneliness. “I never planned to be a writer,” she told Jane Bakerman in a 1978 interview in Black American Literature Forum. “I was in a place where there was nobody I could talk to and have real conversations with. And I think I was also very unhappy. So I wrote then,
Julie Christine
Exquisite with wisdom, grace, vulnerability and compassion, like all of Toni Morrison's work. I am in awe of this writer's mind, her work ethic, the way she brings the intensity and power of jazz into the written word. She is this nation's greatest literary treasure.

Oh. I posted this only an hour or so before learning of her death. My heart just breaks.
Vivek Tejuja
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Toni Morrison’s collection of essays don’t follow a timeline, neither it is linear, nor it is set in an order to make it easy for the reader. At first glance, it might even seem just a random collection of essays, speeches and meditations put together, however, it isn’t that. The book, “The Source of Self-Regard: Essays, Speeches, Meditations” is actually a book that speaks directly to the contemporary reader, and hence the order of essays. It goes headlong into speaking about issues at hand and ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
This is a wonderful collection of Toni Morrison's writing, primarily in speeches given at various functions. Admittedly, some of the themes are repetitive and we don't necessarily have the context in which she is speaking, but her words always have such power and beauty. What I really enjoyed was when she was writing about her own books, about how she writes, and about the influences on her writing. It was all so passionate and interesting. I certainly got new insights into her first 7 novels. S ...more
B. P. Rinehart
I didn't think I would be reading this book so relatively soon. I've not read as much of her novels as I wanted and I wanted my own copy of this book over a library copy--this will definitely merit a re-read where I can sit with it a little more. So this will be my "abridged" overview.

One thing that can be said about Toni Morrison is that she has no time for modesty and all the time for hubris. She's the athlete that trash-talks, but can back it up with skill: a literary Muhammad Ali (whose auto
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm not really a fighting person, but I will fight anyone who pretends that Toni Morrison is not the greatest American writer of all time. Seriously, meet me outside.

I read Beloved for the first time the summer after high school and it just stunned me. I had not believed that such craft and poetry were possible. I kept thinking--did she know that she was linking up all these images and words? Did she intend to create this beauty or was it just inspiration? I've never been the same and I've neve
Allison Thwaites
Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
You ever read a book that made you feel smart as hell? Hahaha! My vocabulary has expanded, my face is clear and my edges are being so respectful.

What I liked - Toni Morrison just knows how to make you feel lost in her words. If I ever took one of her classes, I would never be bored. She speaks about art and language (and many other topics of course) in such an informative and riveting way. There were some essays in this book that made me want to photocopy them and hand them out to people to read
This has to be one of the most inspiring books I have ever read.

“I claimed the right and the range of authorship. To interrupt journalistic history with a metaphorical one; to impose on a rhetorical history an imaginistic one; to read the world, misread it; write and unwrite it. To enact silence and free speech. In short to do what all writers aspire to do. I wanted my work to be the work of disabling the art versus politics argument; to perform the union of aesthetics and ethics.”

Just look at
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This can be considered the Summa theologica of Toni Morrison's opinion about almost everything, from politic, to racism, feminism, and so on. I would only recommend, as it is a collection of essays, not to read them all together, because sometimes, of course , there are repetitions, but I think it can be a very enlightening book.

Questo volume potrebbe essere considerato la Summa theologica del pensiero di Toni Morrison, anche perché, essendo una collezione di saggi, lei parla a largo raggio prat
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
I marked down almost every chapter as a reading that should be included into a syllabus or recommended to certain people. I am already planning on rereading this book within the month. Toni Morrison is a goddess and deserves all of the praise in the world for her graceful and honest words. Please put this book on the top of your reading list. You will not regret it.
as i was reading this book of essays i kept coming back to the fact that toni Morrison is a true intellectual. i had not read or heard her eulogy for james baldwin. SO GOOD. i might have done some crying.

Lekeisha The Booknerd
Mar 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
It took me nearly a month to read this collection of essays. It's not an easy book to read, as there is no timeline to follow. And many of the observations are repetitive, but are explored in different aspects. There are lots of subjects that Toni delves deep into: writing, race, politics, feminism...... Some more jarring than others, but it goes without saying that she tackles them with style and grace. Toni Morrison is one of the GOAT writers. I think ever person on this earth can learn a lot ...more
Camelia Rose
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Source of Self-Regard is a wonderful collection of essays by Toni Morrison. The articles are organized chronologically, some written 30 years ago, some recently before her passing, yet equally sharp, relevant and powerful, the essays on race, Black American culture, American history (slavery), and female liberation especially so.

Toni Morrison also discusses the role of the artist in society, the making and remaking of the so-called American Literature Canon. I confess I haven't read Toni Mo
W. D. Herstun
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book.


But y'all.

Toni makes my head hurt. Like. She kicked my aaaahhhh. Smh, I learned so much I may need a new reading journal.

😒 I'm reading something raunchy in secret to get over this situation.

... That is all.

(must read if you are writer though. She really deserved her Nobel Prize in Literature. I knew she was writing art but I didn't know-know. Now I know. 🤷🏾‍♀️💪🏾🚀)
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book requires, necessitates multiple readings.
David Curry
Mar 03, 2019 rated it liked it
I wish an editor or someone else had persuaded Toni Morrison to change the title of her selected essays, speeches and meditations: The Source of Self-Regard. Occasionally reading it in public places, I was embarrassed to think that anyone might assume I was reading the latest book intended for the bloated New Age and self-help section of an airport bookstore. That title isn’t helped by the boring front cover of the dust jacket, for which a designer is unaccountably credited even though the “desi ...more
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Toni Morrison is obviously a brilliant writer, and I have loved many of her novels, but this compendium of essays and speeches isn’t great. She, not unexpectedly, reuses parts of speeches over and over again, and so it can get really repetitive and confusing (wait, did I read this before?). I love hearing her talk about her writing, and enjoyed her critiques of other literature, but I think her political essays are less effective. But overall it just felt like a disorganized jumble, not this wri ...more
Andy Lillich
As a devoted fiction reader, I found these incisive, short non-fiction pieces to be pretty much over my head. So I took this one back to the library and brought home Pam Houston's new memoir, Deep Creek, which is much more in my non-fiction comfort zone.

This is not to say that I didn't find The Source of Self-Regard to be most excellent - just that it was much more work than I care to do, now that my grad school days are well behand me. Perfect book - for the right reader.
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faves, nonfiction
fucking banger
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
I first encountered Toni Morrison's work as a child when I was sneaking to watch HBO with my cousins and Beloved was playing. I have tried many a time to complete just one of her works and I finally did it. She is just so precise, thoughtful and masterful and I loved every minute of this collection. It truly has proven to me why it is imperative that I continue to try and try again when it comes to reading her published works.
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A few years ago, I made it all the way to the top of Bear Mountain in upstate NY. The minute I got up there, I felt like a sudden entrapment took hold of me. How could I be in one of the most open of places and feel so constricted. But then I recognized the feeling: pure overwhelming feelings. That is what Toni Morrison’s nonfiction does to my brain.
Lindsay Loson
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-reads
"Literature allows us - no, demands of us - the experience of ourselves as multidimensional persons. And in so doing is far more necessary than it has ever been."

Toni Morrison is one of the best writers of this generation, and though this was a more difficult and taxing read, I learned a lot from it. I also feel the need to say that I enjoy Morrison's fiction a lot more than I enjoyed her academic writing. I often felt myself tuning out, especially when a lot of these essays and short s
Sophfronia Scott
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I consider this book lessons in assertiveness. Morrison had a very specific way of thinking about herself and her writing and she is unapologetic in laying out that thinking across these speeches and essays written and delivered over the course of several years. In a writing scene that is all too full of fear and angst I found her words refreshing and inspiring. I will miss her fierce presence in the world.
Miriam Cihodariu
Jun 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, usa
Few non-fiction items are as eye-opening and soul-searching as Toni Morrison's The Source of Self-Regard. A collection of essays and non-fiction published works spanning years, the volume is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand American culture, contemporary womanhood, and especially Black womanhood.

Especially in the sad context of the still ongoing protests in the US, black lives and the layers of significance one needs to learn to juggle with as a black person need more attention and
Sep 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Writing the reading involves seduction-luring the reader into environments outside the pages".

And so it is this line that partly ends "The Source of Self-Regard", written by the late, great Professor Toni Morrison. Reading this collection of eulogies, anecdotes, interviews, speeches give the reader an insight of one of the most brilliant writers who has lived, and sees how at first hand, that race and blackness are social constructs that beg to be viewed as one that is harmful and destructive,
Toni Morrison is, quite frankly, a genius.

I'll keep this review short because this book is pretty much an entire mood. Herein you will find essays, writings, and speeches by Morrison from various points in her career over the last 20 years or so which detail her ideas on topics like politics, race, feminism, language, art, and writing. She also goes into depth with discussions of the construction of many of her famous novels--Sula, Beloved, and The Bluest Eye, to name a few.

Much of the essays
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is serious academic discourse and summer gives me time to reflect on the points the author makes in this book. These essays offer a deeper dive into Morrison's fictional works because she goes to great lengths to explain her purpose and direction; her thinking about her writing.

The essays took me several months to complete because I re-read and re-read many of the passages with my dictionary at the ready. But do read this collection of essays; this is important reading, especially now in a
Mary Thornburg
One of Toni Morrison's most important criticisms of our time and contemporary culture concerns the centrality of wealth, the primacy of profit above every other consideration. It is a shameful, sad irony that Knopf chose to toss this collection of essays, speeches, and "meditations" together without identifying sources or dates except in a confused and confusing index. The result is a troublesome redundancy and a lack of focus that can seem to reflect badly on the writer; the reason can only be ...more
LaTrice McNeil-Smith
Beautiful and though provoking. It's like being inside of Toni's head and I loved it!
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Stunning collection of essays. I suggest it be read over time or even just as a reference when needed.
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Toni Morrison (born Chloe Ardelia Wofford) was 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

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