Thursday, October 1, 2009
Banned Books Week! National Reading Group Month! and a Book that fits into BOTH catagories... their eyes were watching god by Zora Neale Hurston
"I have the nerve to walk my own way, however hard, in my search for reality, rather than climb upon the rattling wagon of wishful illusions."
Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) was one of the most significant collectors and interpreters of Southern African American culture, writer, folklorist & anthropologist. A graduate of Howard University and Barnard College, she then spent 2 years in graduate studies in anthropology at Columbia University. Her other love was writing , which she combined with her research in folklore and anthropology.
"She refused simply to record the ways of her people and thereby condemn her “studies” to dusty library shelves where only researchers would consider them. Rather Zora used her creative genius to being the unique and wonderful culture of African Americans to mainstream America via captivating novels, short stories and dramatic presentations. The woman from Eatonville, Florida, has captured the attention of a worldwide audience with her interpretation of African American culture as a part of the human saga."
She worked with Langston Hughes, influenced writers such as Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison and Alice Walker. But she was also a controversial writer... Thinking like a folklorist, Hurston strove to represent speech patterns of the period which she documented through her research. But other African American writers criticized her for using language that represented a "stereotype". Eventually she fell out of favor with the times and wound up broke and working as a maid at the time of her death. She was buried in an unmarked grave. A terribly sad ending. The writer Alice Walker went to pay her respects to Zora Neale Hurston who's book their eyes were watching god "speaks to me as no novel, past or present, has ever done." and decided that the writer deserved more than an unmarked grave. Her writing was so inspiring to Ms. Walker, that she brought Zora Neale Hurston out of obscurity and back into the limelight...
their eyes were watching god is the best known work by Zora Neale Hurston. Initially published in 1937, this novel about a proud, independent black woman's quest for identity, a journey that takes her through three marriages and back to her roots, has been one of the most widely read and highly acclaimed novels in African-American literature. It's a story about Janie Crawford, an attractive, confident, middle-aged black woman, who returns to Eatonville, Florida, after a long absence. The black townspeople gossip about her and speculate about where she's been and what happened to her husband, Tea Cake. They take her confidence as her being snobbish, but Janie’s friend Pheoby sticks up for her. Pheoby visits her to find out what happened. And that's the beginning of a story filled with failed marriages, strong women and finally true love... And a CHALLENGED BOOK! Why? Because of it's language and sexual explicitness. Most recently challenged in 1998.
Have you read their eyes were watching god? It's been on my bookshelf waiting for me to crack the spine! Time magazines literary critic listed their eyes were watching god as one of the 100 best English-Language novels from 1923 - 2005. Would you like to read an excerpt? Here's a link to Chapter One! their eyes were watching god has a reading group guide available from Harper Collins HERE. Zora Neale Hurston's choice of writing style & dialect, and use of folklore are some of the discussion points.
*P.S. This Book is Kindle Ready! AND at a BARGAIN price of $3.95!