Iconic author Toni Morrison dies at 88: Some of her most empowering quotes

Toni Morrison, the renowned author best known for the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Beloved,” died Monday night at the age of 88, her publicist said Tuesday.

In confirming the news of the giant of American letters, her publisher Alfred Knopf offered a quote from Morrison herself: “We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives”.”

Here are some of the most memorable things Morrison said over the decades:

1 – “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

Morrison wrote this in “The Handy English Grammar Answer Book.”

2 – “A writer’s life and work are not a gift to mankind; they are its necessity.”

That comes from “The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations.”

3 – “Chloe is not interested in those things.”

When Essence magazine asked her in 2015 how she wanted to be remembered, Morrison said: “I would like to be remembered as trustworthy; as generous.”

The response was incredulous: “What are you talking about? You are a famous writer and you want to be remembered as trustworthy?”

“I realized she was thinking about my public self and I was thinking about how I wanted my family to remember me,” Morrison explained. “That other thing is all well and good. But there is Toni Morrison and there is Chloe [Morrison’s birth name]. Chloe is not interested in those things.”

4 – “The world back then didn’t expect much from a little black girl, but my father and mother certainly did. She was still alive when I won the Nobel, although she died three months later. She was delighted but not surprised.”

Morrison said that to Time magazine in 2001.

5 – “You wanna fly, you got to give up the s— that weighs you down.”

She wrote this in “Song of Solomon.”

6 – “If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.”

That is also from “Song of Solomon.”

7 – “Love is or it ain’t. Thin love ain’t love at all.”

And that was from “Beloved.”

8 – “Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined.”

Also from “Beloved.”

9 – “My world did not shrink because I was a black female writer. It just got bigger.”

Morrison said this in an 1987 interview with the New York Times on her novel, “Beloved.”

In fact, she said that the title of being a black female writer is something that, “‘I’ve decided to define that, rather than having it be defined for me.”

“I really think the range of emotions and perceptions I have had access to as a black person and as a female person are greater than those of people who are neither. I really do,” she added.

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