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At the height of the Harlem Renaissance during the 1930s, Zora Neale Hurston was the preeminent black woman writer in the United States. She was a sometime-collaborator with Langston Hughes and a fierce rival of Richard Wright. Her stories appeared in major magazines, she consulted on Hollywood screenplays, and she penned four novels, an autobiography, countless essays, and two books on black mythology. Yet by the late 1950s, Hurston was living in obscurity, working as a maid in a Florida hotel. She died in 1960 in a Welfare home, was buried in an unmarked grave, and quickly faded from literary consciousness until 1975 when Alice Walker almost single-handedly revived interest in her work.
Of Hurston's fiction, Their Eyes Were Watching God is arguably the best-known and perhaps the most controversial. The novel follows the fortunes of Janie Crawford, a woman living in the black town of Eaton, Florida. Hurston sets up her characters and her locale in the first chapter, which, along with the last, acts as a framing device for the story of Janie's life. Unlike Wright and Ralph Ellison, Hurston does not write explicitly about black people in the context of a white world--a fact that earned her scathing criticism from the social realists--but she doesn't ignore the impact of black-white relations either:
It was the time for sitting on porches beside the road. It was the time to hear things and talk. These sitters had been tongueless, earless, eyeless conveniences all day long. Mules and other brutes had occupied their skins. But now, the sun and the bossman were gone, so the skins felt powerful and human. They became lords of sounds and lesser things. They passed nations through their mouths. They sat in judgment.One person the citizens of Eaton are inclined to judge is Janie Crawford, who has married three men and been tried for the murder of one of them. Janie feels no compulsion to justify herself to the town, but she does explain herself to her friend, Phoeby, with the implicit understanding that Phoeby can "tell 'em what Ah say if you wants to. Dat's just de same as me 'cause mah tongue is in mah friend's mouf."
Hurston's use of dialect enraged other African American writers such as Wright, who accused her of pandering to white readers by giving them the black stereotypes they expected. Decades later, however, outrage has been replaced by admiration for her depictions of black life, and especially the lives of black women. In Their Eyes Were Watching God Zora Neale Hurston breathes humanity into both her men and women, and allows them to speak in their own voices. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
'For me, Their eyes were watching God is one of the very greatest American novels of the 20th century. It is so lyrical it should be sentimental; it is so passionate it should be overwrought, but it is instead a rigorous, convincing and dazzling piece of prose, as emotionally satisfying as it is impressive. There is no novel I love more' Zadie Smith --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product Description
couldn't stand to read this - the writing was poor or the accents in the book ...just couldn't tolerate it...to continuePublished 6 months ago by Jenny Lichtenwald
Excellent!! Item as described, quick shipping, recommended, thank you!Published 12 months ago by Allan Aguilar
Patriarchal priviledge can mean a lot of things - a fine home, money, status, the admiration of others (tinged with jealousy), but without love, these are as nothing. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Eleanor Cowan
When I started reading it, I didn't enjoy it too much but it wasn't to the point that I wanted to put it down. Read morePublished on March 7 2011 by Manley H
I have read this book half a dozen times and made the decision to own it. Every time I read it I find something new. Zora's writing style, imagery and prose have no equal. Read morePublished on Aug. 18 2010 by Adela R de Beer
Through Pain and Loss comes this exceptional piece of literature, that though a classic within itself can be read many times over and find something new to capture your attention. Read morePublished on March 6 2005
This isn't a book--it is poetry and I mean that in the best sense--not to turn people off. The writing is beautiful, flowing like a rippling stream over stones. Read morePublished on July 21 2004
Criticized for not writing a protest novel by some of her fellow African-American writers of the time, Zora instead wrote one of the most poetic novels ever written in the United... Read morePublished on July 17 2004 by Dolan Buckley