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. Close your eyes and make a wish. Wish that one of the most informed, smartest, most successful people in your profession walks into your living room, pulls up a chair and says, 'This is what I’ve been thinking. … That’s The Source of Self-Regard ... the real magic is witnessing [Morrison's] mind and imagination at work. They are as fertile and supple as jazz.
In this collection of nonfiction written over the past four decades, [Morrison] reinforces her status as a piercing and visionary analyst of history, society, literature, language, and, always, race ... [Morrison's] analyses of the role of blackness in the white literary imagination and the limitations placed on black authors are affecting and will be particularly trenchant for those encountering them for the first time ... Where the book explodes into pure brilliance, though, is in Morrison’s comprehensive account of her own writing, from its origins in slave narratives, to its philosophical underpinnings, to its artistic influences ... The meticulous care with which Morrison constructs the prose of her magnificent fiction and elegant nonfiction make the sloppy editing of 'The Source of Self-Regard' that much more distracting. In a collection where so many pieces are occasional, providing the date and occasion of each piece alongside its title would have made reading and comprehension easier ... Yet despite its overflowing content, the book still inspires the desire for more. These pieces were written between 1982 and 2013, but only three in the last decade and none in the four years since Donald Trump declared his candidacy for president.
The book contains exhortations and transcribed question-and-answer sessions, reflections and analyses, exegeses and commencement talks. In other words, it’s a large, rich, heterogeneous book, and hallelujah ... With this book, one is tempted to quote at length from her words: her acuity and moral clarity are dazzling, but so is her vision for how we might find our way towards a less unjust, less hateful future ... one of the keenest pleasures of this book, especially for the many admirers of her fiction, will be the detailed explications of her own writing ... Morrison passes along...courage, in this book as in all her books ... [The Source of Self-Regard] is a bracing reminder of what words do, how carefully they should and can be used.
There are delightful glimpses into the craft and the care with which she writes ... Some omissions are puzzling — [Morrison's] 2016 essay, 'Making America White Again', for example, should have been included here — some repetitions across the essays are inevitable, and it’s frustrating that the dates and occasion for each piece are at the end, rather than included alongside. But this is a collection that is startling in its relevance to the conflicts and challenges of the present moment ... In a time of turmoil and political greed, [Morrison's] writings have the power to bring, not a false comfort, but the hard-won belief that words can reshape the world. Toni Morrison’s own words certainly have.
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 ... Of course, to highlight every notable observation or intriguing thesis would be to write an entire, if smaller, book itself. There are few pages that don't contain sentences that invite repeated reading, because of their stimulating content, and often because of Morrison's trademark lyricism. Is it a collection worth reading? Undoubtedly ... If there are complaints to be made, they are few. For my part, I would have loved the inclusion of 'Making America White Again,' an essay that appeared in The New Yorker after the 2016 presidential election. I could also imagine that, for some, recurring refrains could have been culled from the collection. (Others, like me, will be less concerned about repetition and will simply appreciate the opportunity to identify trends and preoccupations in Morrison's work.)
...steeped in sharp intelligence and imagination ... This collection of essays and speeches covers a wide variety of topics that resonate with current issues ... starting with a touching eulogy of James Baldwin, Morrison takes a close look at her own work and that of writers and artists.
The Source of Self-Regard would benefit from time stamps with each work’s title ... Morrison’s The Source of Self-Regard wants to test her powers. In her third collection of nonfiction, her fiction, her voice and her power are still very present.
One striking thing about these essays is how utterly timely many of them remain. The subjects that Morrison has focused her mighty intellect upon for more than half a century continue to be essential issues ... In an era when complex ideas are reduced to slogans and tweets, when language is dumbed down and truth so often debased, The Source of Self-Regard moves with courage and assurance in the opposite direction. What a gift.
This is not a book to devour. Instead, it’s a book to savor, think about, and reflect on one essay/speech/meditation at a time ... Not to be missed in this bold and thoughtful collection is Morrison’s tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. ... A slow, careful reading of this book will reveal the deep thinking and philosophical regard for the world that made it possible for Toni Morrison to create such towering literary works as Beloved and Jazz.
This collection of work, spanning four decades, goes on to show just how necessary Morrison is to our literary canon and how illuminating to our society ... Not only do many of Morrison’s pieces ring out truth in much the same way it’s obvious that they do because she’s doing her job as a writer. Every piece answers what the role of what the artist in society should be because she uses her work to analyze, critique, and offer answers for our world ... Reading this collection is to spend time in the mind of someone brilliant.
Brilliantly incisive essays, speeches, and meditations considering race, power, identity, and art ... Her latest collection gathers more than 40 pieces (including her Nobel lecture), revealing the passion, compassion, and profound humanity that distinguish her writing ... Powerful, highly compelling pieces from one of our greatest writers.
Some superb pieces headline this rich, if perhaps overstocked, collection of primarily spoken addresses and tributes ... 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 ... Nevertheless, this thoughtful anthology makes for often unsettling, and relevant, reading.