10 of Toni Morrison's Most Powerful Quotes

The Nobel-winning author passed away this week at the age of 88.

by Emma Specter
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Aug 6 2019, 5:39pm

Author Toni Morrison died at the age of 88 on Monday night, the New York Times reported Tuesday, leaving behind the body of work that garnered her a Pulitzer Prize, an American Book Award, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, and a Nobel Prize in Literature that she was the first African-American female author to receive.

Iif you're looking for tributes to her legacy, Hilton Als's 2003 New Yorker profile is a great place to start; if you want to be comforted once more by the distinct and inimitable sound of Morrison's own voice, we've rounded up a selection of Morrison's most impactful quotes from across her 10 novels.

"Beauty was not simply something to behold; it was something one could do." — The Bluest Eye, 1970

“It is sheer good fortune to miss somebody long before they leave you.” ― Sula, 1973

"If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.”— Song of Solomon, 1977

"A dead hydrangea is as intricate and lovely as one in bloom. Bleak sky is as seductive as sunshine, miniature orange trees without blossom or fruit are not defective; they are that.” — Tar Baby, 1981

“She is a friend of my mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order.” — Beloved, 1987

"this is the it you've been looking for" — Jazz, 1992

“Which was what love was: unmotivated respect.” — Paradise, 1997

“Language, when it finally comes, has the vigor of a felon pardoned after twenty-one years on hold. Sudden, raw, stripped to its underwear.” — Love, 2003

“To be given dominion over another is a hard thing; to wrest dominion over another is a wrong thing; to give dominion of yourself to another is a wicked thing.” — A Mercy, 2008

“Nothing and nobody is obliged to save you but you.” — Home, 2012