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Imitation of Life Paperback – November 15, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (November 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822333244
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822333241
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #382,433 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Although it’s a ‘white’ novel, Imitation of Life is certainly a part of the African American canon. No film was more important to me as a ‘colored’ child growing up in West Virginia; the funeral scene has to move even the most stoic viewer to tears. Now this new edition of the novel brings this richly layered story back into public view, where it will, I hope, remain.”—Henry Louis Gates Jr., Harvard University


“Daniel Itzkovitz’s brilliant edition of Imitation of Life places this controversial novel at the center of U.S. literary, cinematic, and social history. Fannie Hurst’s novel deserves to be read in its own right, but here its importance as a register of white anxieties about the ethics of American racism and of consumer fantasies for overcoming the particular body are also showcased richly.”—Lauren Berlant, author of The Queen of America Goes to Washington City: Essays on Sex and Citizenship


“This new edition of an influential American classic—one of the first books in twentieth-century popular literature to grapple with issues of gender and race—is reason enough to celebrate, but Daniel Itzkovitz’s splendid and insightful introduction reclaims for Fannie Hurst a preeminent position as an essential American literary figure whose work matters today more than ever.”—Michael Bronski, author of The Pleasure Principle: Sex, Backlash, and the Struggle for Gay Freedom

About the Author

Fannie Hurst (1889–1968) was a popular writer of many novels and short stories. Among her best-known works are Back Street (1930) and Lummox (1923).

Daniel Itzkovitz is Associate Professor of English and Director of American Studies at Stonehill College in North Easton, Massachusetts. He is a coeditor of Queer Theory and the Jewish Question.

Fannie Hurst (1889–1968) was a popular writer of many novels and short stories. Among her best-known works are Back Street (1930) and Lummox (1923).

Daniel Itzkovitz is Associate Professor of English and Director of American Studies at Stonehill College in North Easton, Massachusetts. He is a coeditor of Queer Theory and the Jewish Question.


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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 2, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an oldie but a goodie, and although it may seem somewhat anachronistic, in fact, almost embarrassingly and offensively so, it is well worth reading. A best selling novel when it was first released in 1933, the reader should keep in mind that much of what is in the book would today be perceived as racist. The book is reflective of a paternalistic view of African-Americans that was prevalent at the time in which this book was written. It is certainly a view that is jarring in these more enlightened times, as the books reflects the nature of the racism that was then inherent in our society. This is not a book that would be written today, as modern society, though still racist in many ways, would view it as being totally politically incorrect.

That being said, the book focuses on two female characters, Bea Pullman, a white teenage widow living in Atlantic City, New Jersey with her elderly father and a baby daughter named Jessie, and Delilah Johnston, a young black widow with a light-skinned baby daughter named Peola. Both women are struggling to survive in pre-World War I society, where the lot of widows in a man's world could be a difficult one. When they join forces, an alliance born of necessity is forged. Delilah becomes Bea's housekeeper and caregiver, taking on the traditional woman's role, while Bea struggles to be the breadwinner in a world not yet hospitable to the idea of a business woman.

When Delilah's culinary talents merge with Bea's innate business acumen, they are both on their way to fame and fortune. Before you know it, Bea is making a mint with Delilah's recipes, running a successful chain of B.
Read more ›
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Sami Smith on April 25, 2005
Format: Paperback
The reason you didn't really get the lesbian connection is because it isn't there. In the book and in both versions of the movie, maids/live-in-housekeepers were the norm and friendship of any kind was rare between the classes, much less the races, ...the whole point of the story! (Bea treating Delilah like a business-woman and business-partner is the more heartwarming part of the story.) You can see this in the 1934 movie by the fact that Delilah is answering a newspaper ad for a colored maid and in the 1959 movie by the fact that they are put up in the room behind the kitchen (Sarah-Jane whines about "why do we always have to sleep behind the kitchen")...servants quarters in smaller houses and apartments were always a small room behind the kitchen, often w/a back entrance (in the 1934 mansion it is a downstairs entrance) near the kitchen so as to be close to where the maid spent most of her time cooking and so as to be out of the way of white guests. Your friends should re-read the book in the context in which it was written in 1933 and not the context in which they wish it to have been written in 2005.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jolting Joe on September 4, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I always love the movie, but was always was curious about the Book. I read through it in less than a week.
the story is very different story than the movie,, many change especially the end,, Not the tragic ending that
the both versions of the movie had.. I really enjoyed reading the story,, and actually happy how the daughter
found herself with out being villianized as the movie made her. or the regret that came.
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By Nina on July 21, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While the story was ok the cover is misleading. I am a die hard fan of the movie Imitation of Life with Lana Turner and Juanita Moore and never knew it was based on the book by Fannie Hurst. When I saw the cover of the book I was so happy for a new find to add to my library at home. I thought the book would have some additional information to the storyline that wasn't shown in the movie and was excited to read it. When I read the book the characters had completely different names and the departure from the movie in the storyline was disappointing. I know the book came before the movie but it is so misleading and probably a ploy to get sales that they use the picture from the 1950's movie that everyone loves on the cover. They should have used a picture from the 1930's movie with Claudette Coeburn, at least then characters on the cover of the book and the characters in the book would have the same name. I have recommended the movie to many people, as it is my favorite of all time, but the book is not on the top of my list.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 4, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an oldie but a goodie, and although it may seem somewhat anachronistic, in fact, almost embarrassingly and offensively so, it is well worth reading. A best selling novel when it was first released in 1933, the reader should keep in mind that much of what is in the book would today be perceived as racist. The book is reflective of a paternalistic view of African-Americans that was prevalent at the time in which this book was written. It is certainly a view that is jarring in these more enlightened times, as the books reflects the nature of the racism that was then inherent in our society. This is not a book that would be written today, as modern society, though still racist in many ways, would view it as being totally politically incorrect.

That being said, the book focuses on two female characters, Bea Pullman, a white teenage widow living in Atlantic City, New Jersey with her elderly father and a baby daughter named Jessie, and Delilah Johnston, a young black widow with a light-skinned baby daughter named Peola. Both women are struggling to survive in pre-World War I society, where the lot of widows in a man's world could be a difficult one. When they join forces, an alliance born of necessity is forged. Delilah becomes Bea's housekeeper and caregiver, taking on the traditional woman's role, while Bea struggles to be the breadwinner in a world not yet hospitable to the idea of a business woman.

When Delilah's culinary talents merge with Bea's innate business acumen, they are both on their way to fame and fortune. Before you know it, Bea is making a mint with Delilah's recipes, running a successful chain of B.
Read more ›
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