Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

One of the most important works of twentieth-century American literature, Zora Neale Hurston’s beloved 1937 classic, Their Eyes Were Watching God, is an enduring Southern love story sparkling with wit, beauty, and heartfelt wisdom. Told in the captivating voice of a woman who refuses to live in sorrow, bitterness, fear, or foolish romantic dreams, it is the story of fair-skinned, fiercely independent Janie Crawford, and her evolving selfhood through three marriages and a life marked by poverty, trials, and purpose. A true literary wonder, Hurston's masterwork remains as relevant and affecting today as when it was first published— perhaps the most widely read and highly regarded novel in the entire canon of African American literature.

My take: 5 looks
This book is heralded as an "African American Feminist Classic", which put me off a bit. In the age of what came to be known as "racial uplifting" in literature, I didn't look forward to yet another story of the hardship, bitterness, plight and struggle of the American Negro. The book was panned because she didn't use her voice to try to advance the movement, and her fellow authors turned on her, as they thought she had turned on them.

However, this is a story that celebrates community, rural living, family and, most of all, a woman choosing her own path in a day when she was still considered the property of her husband. This strong-willed woman could have been any color, but her being black added to the story, as opposed to shaping or forming the foundation of the story.

The writing here is intelligent, lyrical and absolutely beautiful. It has insight, daring, courage and transports the reader in time. I was in the Everglades. I was on that store porch. I was in the big house. And I was on the dusty road, looking toward my next destination. Hurston was a author...and you should read this book simply because it is American literature at its finest.

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