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Every Tongue Got to Confess: Negro Folk-Tales from the Gulf States Hardcover – November 27, 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1st edition (November 27, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060188936
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060188931
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,543,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Although Hurston is better known for her novels, particularly Their Eyes Were Watching God, she might have been prouder of her anthropological field work. In 1927, with the support of Franz Boas, the dean of American anthropologists, Hurston traveled the Deep South collecting stories from black laborers, farmers, craftsmen and idlers. These tales featured a cast of characters made famous in Joel Chandler Harris's bowdlerized Uncle Remus versions, including John (related, no doubt, to High John the Conqueror), Brer Fox and various slaves. But for Hurston these stories were more than entertainments; they represented a utopia created to offset the sometimes unbearable pressures of disenfranchisement: "Brer Fox, Brer Deer, Brer 'Gator, Brer Dawg, Brer Rabbit, Ole Massa and his wife were walking the earth like natural men way back in the days when God himself was on the ground and men could talk with him." Hurston's notes, which somehow got lost, were recently rediscovered in someone else's papers at the Smithsonian. Divided into 15 categories ("Woman Tales," "Neatest Trick Tales," etc.), the stories as she jotted them down range from mere jokes of a few paragraphs to three-page episodes. Many are set "in slavery time," with "massa" portrayed as an often-gulled, but always potentially punitive, presence. There are a variety of "how come" and trickster stories, written in dialect. Acting the part of the good anthropologist, Hurston is scrupulously impersonal, and, as a result, the tales bear few traces of her inimitable voice, unlike Tell My Horse, her classic study of Haitian voodoo. Though this may limit the book's appeal among general readers, it is a boon for Hurston scholars and may, as Kaplan says in her introduction, establish Hurston's importance as an African-American folklorist. (Dec.)Forecast: Hurston's name will ensure this title ample review coverage, and it should do well among lovers of folktales, particularly those curious about Hurston's career in the field.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Hurston (1891-1960) rises again with this delightful collection of authentic African American folklore gathered from 122 individuals during her travels in Florida, Alabama, and New Orleans in the late 1920s. Intended for publication in 1929, the manuscript found its way into the National Anthropological Archives of the Smithsonian, where it was rediscovered and authenticated in 1991. Over 500 tales are presented as Hurston left them, in their vernacular dialect with no changes to grammar, spelling, punctuation, syntax, or dialect. A few of the tales appear among the 100 or so in Mules & Men (HarperCollins, 1990. reprint), but in contrast to that volume, in which Hurston contextualizes the tales and interjects her own personal experiences, this current collection offers isolated pieces organized within thematic groups (e.g., "God Tales" and "Mistaken Identity" tales). There are no interpretations, just annotations of folk expressions and slang taken mostly from Hurston's previously published glossaries and footnotes. With this new collection, Hurston provides an even greater sense of the black oral tradition, which demands appreciation and admiration. Highly recommended for general reading and for folklore collections in academic and large public libraries.
- Jeris Cassel, Rutgers Univ. Libs., New Brunswick, NJ
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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An awesome read for leisure or academia.
RB
Essentially, the great Folklorist Zora Neale Hurston spent 1928 and 29 among rural Blacks in Florida and Alabama jotting down their folk tales and witty sayings.
Andre M.
These stories are funny, frightening and enlightening.
Kimberley Wilson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Andre M. on December 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover
If you grew up hearing older folks get together and swap wild stories, or if you have an academic interest in folklore, then this is for you! Essentially, the great Folklorist Zora Neale Hurston spent 1928 and 29 among rural Blacks in Florida and Alabama jotting down their folk tales and witty sayings. Being a Black Southerner herself gave her an insider's access that made her interviewees comfortable in sharing with her. The final manuscript, "Negro Folktales of the Gulf States" remained unpublished till now. Some of these tales were published in 1935 with a framework story of Miss Hurston's adventures among her interviewees entitled "Mules and Men." But here, the stories exist in their orignial, uncut form without a framework story. Once the modern reader becomes accustomed to the printed approximation of Southern African-American dialect, you can sit back and enjoy the folk wisdom and humorous tales. So imagine that Grandpa, Uncle Wille, and all the others are gathered around your porch with a pitcher of lemonade on a pleasant afternoon and enjoy this African-American equivalent to "Aesop's Fables" and "The Arabian Nights."
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Kimberley Wilson on December 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
If only Zora Neale Hurston could've published this book during her lifetime! Luckily her papers containing her research were rediscoveredand we now have this gorgeous collection of stories. Some of them were familiar to me from listening to my grandparents tell tall tales, others were completely new. These stories are funny, frightening and enlightening. Our elders and ancestors were amazing people with a tough and even cynical sense of humor. If we are lucky more of Hurston's research will be found and more will be published.
Kimberley Wilson, author of 11 Things Mama Never Told You About Men
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Alvin C. Romer on January 29, 2003
Format: Paperback
It was said from those that knew her best, that African-American folklore was Zora Neale Hurston�s first love. The ability to manifest in, and excel within the margins of her own people�swapping lies, telling tales, and giving unique meaning to life from the backhand side. Thus, if any part of her legacy is to prevail, one should pay close attention to this side of her that I feel truly helped to define her writing style. No doubt, the genesis of it all goes back to her Eatonville, Florida roots sitting on the porch of the neighborhood story listening to the older men adhere to the aforementioned. Subsequently as a Barnard student of Anthropology under the guidance of Franz Boaz, she embarked in 1927 on a two-year effort to collect samples of African-American folklore. This sets the stage for Negro Tales From The Gulf States, which can boast of an interesting evolution. This is a book written by Zora that was almost an afterthought, until recently discovered after lying in obscurity for nearly 30 years. All of this time, it was stored in a basement at Columbia University, and 20 more at the Smithsonian before coming to light at the urging of the author�s estate and others.
What we have here in borrowing Zora�s own words � �authenticity to preserve the tale-tellers way of speaking�savoring the boiled-down juice of human living�. The book is well written and organized by subject. Read it and revel in how the author used and presented vernacular that would be recognized today as Ebonics�everyday idiomatic expressionism. You will witness improvisational wordplay and given an apt explanation of how these folktales were collected, lost, found, and examined for the deep significance they hold today.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Trichia on April 11, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book was suggested to me while my pastor preached a sermon, His subject matter - following your own dream - led me to want to read to see how this subject was handled by Zora Neale Hurston so many years ago.,

The main character had dreams that she had to delay in the atmosphere that surrounded her in everyday life in her community and married life. This is must read to see how she emerges into a new and different lifestyle to find herself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Stik50 on December 31, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A great book to have in your Zora Neale library. Being from south Georgia- North Florida area , her stories are so enjoyable and simple for their time. I loved the dialog and style of her writting. This is a must have for Zora fans.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Carolyn on June 21, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful audio CD. It is soooo funny and reminds me of the stories my father used to tell as though they were real things happening to real people. Until I heard these folk tales, I thought Daddy's stories were actually TRUE!!! It arrived in good shape and I listen over and over and over again.
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