The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations
by Toni Morrison
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. (Amazon.com)
“Even as she moves into the October of life, Morrison, quietly and without ceremony, lays another gem at our feet… A reminder that…the mightiness, the stillness, the pure power and beauty of words delivered in thought, reason and discourse, still carry the unstoppable force of a thousand hammer blows, spreading the salve of righteousness that can heal our nation and restore the future our children deserve. This book demonstrates once again that Morrison is more than the standard bearer of American literature. She is our greatest singer. And this book is perhaps her most important song.
Toni Morrison does not belong to black America. She doesn’t belong to white America. She is not “one of us.” She is all of us. She is not one nation. She is every nation. Her life is an instruction manual on how to be humble enough, small enough, tiny enough, gracious enough, heartful enough, big enough, to do what Ella Fitzgerald did at Harvard 37 years ago. To take an unknowing audience in the cradle of her hand and say, “I love you… and you… and you…” To love someone. It’s the greatest democratic act imaginable. It’s the greatest novel ever written. Isn’t that why we read books in the first place?”
—James McBride, The New York Times
The Source Of Self-Regard’ Speaks To Today’s Social And Political Moment
“Morrison turns her penetrating analysis on the mass movement of people across the globe, foreigners and foreignness, and what it means to be “exiled in the place one belongs.” She takes on racism — in the media, society, and American literature — and examines how, step by deliberate step, nations move towards “its succubus twin fascism.” Devotees should be happy to know that the Nobel laureate also delves into her own artistic process in addition to exploring the work of the painter Romare Bearden, theater director Peter Sellars, and writers ranging from Toni Cade Bambara to Chinua Achebe to Herman Melville. In short, you can expect virtually every entry in the collection, whether it was written in the 1970s or in this century, to feel strikingly relevant today.”
— Ericka Taylor, NPR
About the Author
Morrison won the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award in 1988 for Beloved. The novel was adapted into a film of the same name (starring Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover) in 1998. Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. In 1996, the National Endowment for the Humanities selected her for the Jefferson Lecture, the U.S. federal government’s highest honor for achievement in the humanities. She was honored with the 1996 National Book Foundation‘s Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Morrison wrote the libretto for a new opera, Margaret Garner, first performed in 2005. On May 29, 2012, President Barack Obama presented Morrison with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2016, she received the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction.
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