Timeless words from Toni Morrison's books

We remember the inspiring words of the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author who died this week

12 August 2019 - 09:55
By Sunday Times Books
Toni Morrison, who died this week aged 88. Picture: Leonardo Cendamo/Getty Images
Toni Morrison, who died this week aged 88. Picture: Leonardo Cendamo/Getty Images

Published in the Sunday Times: 11/08/2019

"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. No record of it needs to be kept and you don't need someone to share it with or tell it to. When that happens - that letting go - you let go because you can." Tar Baby

"There is a loneliness that can be rocked. Arms crossed, knees drawn up, holding, holding on, this motion, unlike a ship's, smooths and contains the rocker. It's an inside kind - wrapped tight like skin. Then there is the loneliness that roams. No rocking can hold it down. It is alive. On its own. A dry and spreading thing that makes the sound of one's own feet going seem to come from a far-off place." Beloved

"Beauty was not simply something to behold; it was something one could do." The Bluest Eye

"Good for you. More it hurt more better it is. Can't nothing heal without pain, you know." Beloved

"No matter what all your teeth and wet fingers anticipated, there was no accounting for the way that simple joy could shake you." Beloved

"He fell for an eighteen-year-old girl with one of those deepdown spooky loves that made him so sad and happy he shot her just to keep the feeling going." Jazz

"Being good to somebody is just like being mean to somebody. Risky. You don't get nothing for it." Sula

"It takes a certain intelligence to love like that - softly, without props. But the world is such a showpiece, maybe that's why folks try to outdo it, put everything they feel onstage just to prove they can think up things too: handsome scary things like fights to the death, adultery, setting sheets afire. They fail of course. The world outdoes them every time." Love

"I need to use everything - sound, image, performance - to get at the full meaning of the story." Tar Baby

"I don't think many people appreciate silence or realise that it is as close to music as you can get." God Help the Child

"How can I take crime shows seriously where the female detectives track killers in Louboutin heels?" God Help the Child