This post is part of our Toni Morrison Reading Day: a celebration of one of our favorite authors on the occasion of her new novel, Home. Check out the rest right here.
William Faulkner is widely recognized as one of Morrison’s most important literary influences, both thematically and stylistically. But just how close are they?
See if you can correctly identify the author of the below passages. Each is either Morrison or Faulkner, and the answers are at the bottom of the post in inviso-text (just highlight it).
1. You cant beat women anyhow and that if you are wise or dislike trouble and uproar you dont even try to.
2. The saddest thing about love, Joe, is that not only the love cannot last forever, but even the heartbreak is soon forgotten.
3. Sweet, crazy conversations full of half sentences, daydreams and misunderstandings more thrilling than understanding could ever be.
4. 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.
5. She was bored. She loved, had capacity to love, for love, to give and accept love. Only she tried twice and failed twice to find somebody not just strong enough to deserve it, earn it, match it, but even brave enough to accept it.
6. While they are busy showing off, digging other people’s graves, hanging themselves on a cross, running wild in the streets, cherries are quietly turning from greed to red, oysters are suffering pearls, and children are catching rain in their mouths expecting the drops to be cold but they’re not; they are warm and smell like pineapple before they get heavier and heavier, so heavy and fast they can’t be caught one at a time. Poor swimmers head for shore while strong ones wait for lightning’s silver veins. Bottle-green clouds sweep in, pushing the rain inland where palm trees pretend to be shocked by the wind.
7. You get born and you try this and you don’t know why only you keep on trying it and you are born at the same time with a lot of other people, all mixed up with them, like trying to, having to, move your arms and legs with strings only the same strings are hitched to all the other arms and legs and the others all trying and they don’t know why either except that the strings are all in one another’s way like five or six people all trying to make a rug on the same loom only each one wants to weave his own pattern into the rug; and it can’t matter, you know that, or the Ones that set up the loom would have arranged things a little better, and yet it must matter because you keep on trying or having to keep on trying and then all of a sudden it’s all over.
8. There is really nothing more to say-except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in how.
9 . I would think how words go straight up in a thin line, quick and harmless, and how terribly doing goes along the earth, clinging to it, so that after a while the two lines are too far apart for the same person to straddle from one to the other; and that sin and love and fear are just sounds that people who never sinned nor loved nor feared have for what they never had and cannot have until they forget the words.”
10. I seemed to be lying neither asleep nor awake looking down a long corridor of gray half light where all stable things had become shadowy paradoxical all I had done shadows all I had felt suffered taking visible form antic and perverse mocking without relevance inherent themselves with the denial of the significance they should have affirmed thinking I was I was not who was not was not who.
11. Some things you forget. Other things you never do. But it’s not. Places, places are still there. If a house burns down, it’s gone, but the place–the picture of it–stays, and not just in my remory, but out there, in the world. What I remember is a picture floating around out there outside my head. I mean, even if I don’t think if, even if I die, the picture of what I did, or knew, or saw is still out there. Right in the place where it happened.
12. Each member of the family in his own cell of consciousness, each making his own patchwork quilt of reality – collecting fragments of experience here, pieces of information there. From the tiny impressions gleaned from one another, they created a sense of belonging and tried to make do with the way they found each other.
13. The sun, an hour above the horizon, is poised like a bloody egg upon a crest of thunderheads; the light has turned copper: in the eye portentous, in the nose sulphurous, smelling of lightning.”
14. Sunk in the grass of an empty lot on a spring Saturday, I split the stems of milkweed and thought about ants and peach pits and death and where the world went when I closed my eyes.
15. For a long while we just stood there, looking down at the profound and fleshless grin. The body had apparently once lain in the attitude of an embrace, but now the long sleep that outlasts love, that conquers even the grimace of love, had cuckolded him. What was left of him, rotted beneath what was left of the nightshirt, had become inextricable from the bed in which he lay; and upon him and upon the pillow beside him lay that even coating of the patient and biding dust.
16.They seemed to have taken all of their smoothly cultivated ignorance, their exquisitely learned self-hatred, their elaborately designed hopelessness and sucked it all up into a fiery cone of scorn that had burned for ages in the hollows of their minds – cooled – and spilled over lips of outrage, consuming whatever was in its path.
Alright, ready to check your work? Answers are below (highlight to see them).