The source of self-regard Selected essays, speeches, and meditations

Toni Morrison

Book - 2019

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. It is divided into three parts: the first is introduced by a powerful prayer for the dead of 9/11; the second by a sea...rching meditation on Martin Luther King Jr., and the last by a heart-wrenching eulogy for James Baldwin. In the writings and speeches included here, Morrison takes on contested social issues: the foreigner, female empowerment, the press, money, "black matter(s)," and human rights. She looks at enduring matters of culture: the role of the artist in society, the literary imagination, the Afro-American presence in American literature, and in her Nobel lecture, the power of language itself. And here too is piercing commentary on her own work (including The Bluest Eye, Sula, Tar Baby, Jazz, Beloved, and Paradise) and that of others, among them, painter and collagist Romare Bearden, author Toni Cade Bambara, and theater director Peter Sellars.

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Subjects
Genres
Essays
Speeches
Meditations
Published
New York : Alfred A. Knopf 2019.
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
ix, 354 pages ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 353-354).
ISBN
9780525521037
0525521038
Main Author
Toni Morrison (author)
  • I. THE FOREIGNER'S HOME. The dead of September 11
  • The foreigner's home
  • Racism and fascism
  • Home
  • Wartalk
  • The war on error
  • A race in mind: the press in deed
  • Moral inhabitants
  • The price of wealth, the cost of care
  • The habit of art
  • The individual artist
  • Arts advocacy
  • Sarah Lawrence commencement address
  • The slavebody and the blackbody
  • Harlem on my mind: contesting memory: meditation on museums, culture, and integration
  • Women, race, and memory
  • Literature and public life
  • The Nobel lecture in literature
  • Cinderella's stepsisters
  • The future of time: literature and diminished expectations
  • INTERLUDE: BLACK MATTERS. Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Race matters
  • Black matter(s)
  • Unspeakable things unspoken: the Afro-American presence in American literature
  • Academic whispers
  • Gertrude Stein and the difference she makes
  • Hard, true, and lasting
  • PART II. GOD'S LANGUAGE. James Baldwin eulogy
  • The site of memory
  • God's language
  • Grendel and his mother
  • The writer before the page
  • The trouble with paradise
  • On "Beloved"
  • Chinua Achebe
  • Introduction of Peter Sellars
  • Tribute to Romare Bearden
  • Faulkner and women
  • The source of self-regard
  • Rememory
  • Memory, creation, and fiction
  • Goodbye to all that: race, surrogacy, and farewell
  • Invisible ink: reading the writing and writing the reading.
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* For more than four decades, Morrison has written luminous fiction exploring the human condition through complex characters and nonfiction works steeped in sharp intelligence and imagination. This collection of essays and speeches covers a wide variety of topics that resonate with current issues. She begins by focusing on notions of the foreigner in the churning global diaspora driven by economics and geopolitical conflict and challenging easy notions of identity. Even as technology has narrowed geographic distances, the global movement of populations of people has provoked fear and freighted perceptions of boundaries and frontiers. In a meditation on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., Morrison examines the complex history of race relations in the U.S. and how it has inexorably tied criminality and stigma to black bodies and created a legacy of racism that has outlived slavery. Finally, starting with a touching eulogy of James Baldwin, Morrison takes a close look at her own work and that of writers and artists, including Baldwin, Achebe, Faulkner, and Bearden, and the profound impact of the arts. Morrison turns a critical eye on race, social politics, money, feminism, culture, and the press, with the essential mandate that each of us bears the responsibility for reaching beyond our superficial identifies and circumstances for a closer look at what it means to be human. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Every book by Nobel laureate Morrison is a magnet for readers, and this is a particularly timely, involving, and provocative gathering of though-pieces and inquiries. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Nobel Prize winner Morrison presents four decades' worth of acutely reasoned pieces on society and culture, divided into three sections. The first is prefaced by a prayer for those who died in 9/11, the second by reflections on Martin Luther King Jr., and the third by a celebration both heartwarming and heartbreaking of James Baldwin. Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Nobel Prize-winning novelist Morrison (Beloved; Song of Solomon) presents a rich collection of essays from 1976 to 2013, primarily speeches given at college convocations, lectures series, conferences, commencement addresses, and symposiums, among other occasions. Topics vary, reflecting the intellectual curiosity and pursuits of the author. As in any collection of this sort, not every selection is outstanding; there are repetitions that call upon readers to skim those pieces less memorable. But for every instance of sameness in topic there are many entries that are educational, revelatory, and enlightening. Morrison is a master of the luminous thought, of the sense of outrage or compassion that makes readers feel as if they are in the presence of an author who deeply cares about literature and the themes that engage her. Topics include the author developing the openings of her novels and deciding what tone or turn of phrase was the perfect vehicle to convey her insights about humanity. Other themes address racism and fascism, the importance of advocacy for the arts, the heritage of slavery, and especially Morrison's tributes to Martin Luther King Jr., writers James Baldwin, Chinua Achebe, and William Faulkner, and artist Romare Bearden. VERDICT Essential for Morrison readers who wish to supplement their appreciation of her achievements with her thoughts on American life and literature. Highly recommended.—Morris Hounion, New York City Coll. of Technology, Brooklyn Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Some superb pieces headline this rich, if perhaps overstocked, collection of primarily spoken addresses and tributes by Nobel laureate Morrison. Many are prescient and highly relevant to the present political moment. For example, Morrison alludes in 1996 to controversy at the U.S.-Mexico border, writing that "it is precisely ‘the south' where walls, fences, armed guards, and foaming hysteria are, at this very moment, gathering." She focuses, of course, on the issues closest to her heart: racism, the move away from compassion in modern-day society, the often invisible presence of African-Americans in American literature, and her own novels. Some of her strongest pieces are the longest: for example, her talk on Gertrude Stein, and her two essays on race in literature, "Black Matter(s)" and "Unspeakable Things Unspoken" are must-reads. The collection is organized thematically, which is helpful, but because the pieces jump around in time, dates would be a valuable addition to the essay titles. And while it is no doubt important to create a comprehensive collection of such a noted figure's writings, the book, which includes 43 selections, can seem padded and overlong at times. Nevertheless, this thoughtful anthology makes for often unsettling, and relevant, reading. (Feb.) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

An anthology of the Nobel Prize-winning writer’s essays, speeches and commentary on society, culture and art includes her powerful prayer for the dead of 9/11, her searching meditation on Martin Luther King, Jr. and her poignant eulogy for James Baldwin. (literary collections).

Review by Publisher Summary 2

An anthology of the author's essays, speeches, and commentary on society, culture, and art includes her powerful prayer for the dead of 9/11, her searching meditation on Martin Luther King, Jr., and her poignant eulogy for James Baldwin.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • Here is the Nobel Prize winner in her own words: a rich gathering of her most important essays and speeches, spanning four decades that "speaks to today’s social and political moment as directly as this morning’s headlines” (NPR).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 and freedom: the foreigner, female empowerment, the press, money, “black matter(s),” human rights, the artist in society, the Afro-American presence in American literature. And she turns her incisive critical eye to her own work (The Bluest Eye, Sula, Tar Baby, Jazz, Beloved, Paradise) and that of others. An essential collection from an essential writer, The Source of Self-Regard shines with the literary elegance, intellectual prowess, spiritual depth, and moral compass that have made Toni Morrison our most cherished and enduring voice.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

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. It is divided into three parts: the first is introduced by a powerful prayer for the dead of 9/11; the second by a searching meditation on Martin Luther King Jr., and the last by a heart-wrenching eulogy for James Baldwin. In the writings and speeches included here, Morrison takes on contested social issues: the foreigner, female empowerment, the press, money, "black matter(s)," and human rights. She looks at enduring matters of culture: the role of the artist in society, the literary imagination, the Afro-American presence in American literature, and in her Nobel lecture, the power of language itself. And here too is piercing commentary on her own work (including The Bluest Eye, Sula, Tar Baby, Jazz, Beloved, and Paradise) and that of others, among them, painter and collagist Romare Bearden, author Toni Cade Bambara, and theater director Peter Sellars. In all, The Source of Self-Regard is a luminous and essential addition to Toni Morrison's oeuvre.