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

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  1,064 ratings  ·  167 reviews
Here is Toni Morrison in her own words: a rich gathering of her most important essays and speeches, spanning four decades. These pages give us her searing prayer for the dead of 9/11, her Nobel lecture on the power of language, her searching meditation on Martin Luther King Jr., her heart-wrenching eulogy for James Baldwin. She looks deeply into the fault lines of culture ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published January 14th 2020 by Vintage (first published February 12th 2019)
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Iosephvs Bibliothecarivs Comparing this book' s table of contents in the Amazon preview with Penguin Australia's description of Mouth Full of Blood (,…moreComparing this book' s table of contents in the Amazon preview with Penguin Australia's description of Mouth Full of Blood (, it does appear that they are the same.(less)
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Joshunda Sanders
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Allison Thwaites
Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.

Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Lekeisha The Booknerd
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
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book requires, necessitates multiple readings.
Camelia Rose
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
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
David Curry
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 “ ...more
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
fucking banger
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 ...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.
Sophfronia Scott
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.
Sep 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
Stunning collection of essays. I suggest it be read over time or even just as a reference when needed.
If you are an Academic, especially if you are interested in African-American studies, you will possibly enjoy this book. I did not enjoy it, except for one or two of the essays and some passages. I labored through it, but was determined to finish. There is no doubt this woman is very intelligent and knowledgable, but entertaining she is not. I have not read any of her novels, so perhaps that is my fault.
Monica Kim: Reader in Emerald City
A writer’s life and work are not a gift to mankind; they are a necessity.” — Toni Morrison, “The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations
I read it somewhere few years ago that Ms. Morrison signed a contract to write a memoir, but later withdraw from the contract because she thought her life wasn’t interesting enough for a book. If you know anything about her life (who doesn’t?), you are probably as shocked as I am. After finishing Ms. Morrison’s “The Source of
Michael Kress
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, 2010s
R.I.P. Toni Morrison. This is my favorite book to come out so far in 2019. Certainly a nuanced and challenging take on social-justice, much deeper than other books I've read on the subject. Race and gender issues are a common theme throughout the book, although the coverage of these themes takes on many forms. Whether she's writing about her own experience, giving tributes to mentors and influences, or critiquing books by herself and others, it's always engaging and enlightening. I especially ...more
Abby Suzanne
Towards the end of The Source of Self-Regard, one of the included pieces discusses the need for books to find the right reader- a reader who can read the text and see the subtext and appreciate both because the reader has the context for the story and so the story resonates. I was not the right reader for this one. I appreciated each of the pieces, but I didn't like how the collection was structured. I'm not sure the grouping made sense, and I am really not a fan of the lack of context for each ...more
May 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I find her writing challenging and always have and this book helped me to understand why, and it makes me want to revisit her work. This is primarily a book for writers and for readers. It's probably also great for English teachers, particularly those who teach her work. I am enthralled by how her mind works, and the lengths to which she goes to choose her words. I have this sense that there is no writer living or dead who thinks as she does and that her mind is an important and historic ...more
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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
“A writer's life and work are not a gift to mankind; they are its necessity.” 7 likes
“Memory (the deliberate act of remembering) is a form of willed creation. It is not an effort to find out the way it really was--that is research. The point is to dwell on the way it appeared and why it appeared in that particular way.” 6 likes
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