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Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica Paperback – December 30, 2008
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About the Author
Zora Neale Hurston, the author of Their Eyes Were Watching God, was deemed "one of the greatest writers of our time" by Toni Morrison. With the publication of Lies and Other Tall Tales, The Skull Talks Back, and What's the Hurry, Fox? new generations will be introduced to Hurston's legacy. She was born in Notasulga, Alabama, in 1891, and died in 1960.
More About the Author
Growing up in Eatonville, in an eight-room house on five acres of land, Zora had a relatively happy childhood, despite frequent clashes with her preacher-father. Her mother, on the other hand, urged young Zora and her seven siblings to "jump at de sun."
Hurston's idyllic childhood came to an abrupt end, though, when her mother died in 1904. Zora was only 13 years old.
After Lucy Hurston's death, Zora's father remarried quickly and seemed to have little time or money for his children. Zora worked a series of menial jobs over the ensuing years, struggled to finish her schooling, and eventually joined a Gilbert & Sullivan traveling troupe as a maid to the lead singer. In 1917, she turned up in Baltimore; by then, she was 26 years old and still hadn't finished high school. Needing to present herself as a teenager to qualify for free public schooling, she lopped 10 years off her life--giving her age as 16 and the year of her birth as 1901. Once gone, those years were never restored: From that moment forward, Hurston would always present herself as at least 10 years younger than she actually was.
Zora also had a fiery intellect, and an infectious sense of humor. Zora used these talents--and dozens more--to elbow her way into the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, befriending such luminaries as poet Langston Hughes and popular singer/actress Ethel Waters.
By 1935, Hurston--who'd graduated from Barnard College in 1928--had published several short stories and articles, as well as a novel (Jonah's Gourd Vine) and a well-received collection of black Southern folklore (Mules and Men). But the late 1930s and early '40s marked the real zenith of her career. She published her masterwork, Their Eyes Were Watching God, in 1937; Tell My Horse, her study of Caribbean Voodoo practices, in 1938; and another masterful novel, Moses, Man of the Mountain, in 1939. When her autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road, was published in 1942, Hurston finally received the well-earned acclaim that had long eluded her. That year, she was profiled in Who's Who in America, Current Biography and Twentieth Century Authors. She went on to publish another novel, Seraph on the Suwanee, in 1948.
Still, Hurston never received the financial rewards she deserved. So when she died on Jan. 28, 1960--at age 69, after suffering a stroke--her neighbors in Fort Pierce, Florida, had to take up a collection for her funeral. The collection didn't yield enough to pay for a headstone, however, so Hurston was buried in a grave that remained unmarked until 1973.
That summer, a young writer named Alice Walker traveled to Fort Pierce to place a marker on the grave of the author who had so inspired her own work.
Walker entered the snake-infested cemetery where Hurston's remains had been laid to rest. Wading through waist-high weeds, she soon stumbled upon a sunken rectangular patch of ground that she determined to be Hurston's grave. Walker chose a plain gray headstone. Borrowing from a Jean Toomer poem, she dressed the marker up with a fitting epitaph: "Zora Neale Hurston: A Genius of the South."
Top Customer Reviews
Though some of the fear of voodoo's supposedly dark practices is banished by the domestic nature of the events and beliefs that are documented in Tell My Horse there are still many things that others may find frightening, just like with any culture. America seems to have an obsession with zombies these days. There are people across the nation who have built "zombie bunkers", have developed zombie escape strategies, and who are stockpiling edible goods and weapons in case of a zombie apocalypse. The news of men on the east coast who are ripping people's faces off and eating them certainly don't help the zombie paranoia, but the obsession is still relatively new here. It is not new, however, in Haiti. Flesh eating monstrosities may not necessarily be a fear to the Haitian people, but Hurston explains in her book that there is a genuine fear of being turned into a zombie after one dies. The dead that are reanimated, from the point of view of Haitian voodoo, are not free roaming killing machines. They are mindless workhorses that are often sent to toil in the fields.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Although most of those who recognize Zora Neal Hurston’s name think of her fiction, Hurston was also an anthropologist, a Student of Franz “papa” Boas, one of the last great public... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Persephone
Thought this might be a little dry reading, but it was good. It held my interest, and was very interesting.Published 7 months ago by The Lady of the Lake
I bought this book mainly for information on Jamaican Obeah and folk magic for a story that I was writing. On that note, it didn't really help me out too much. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Manny G.
This book has changed my life. As a speaker who presents talks on Zora Neale Hurston, I highly recommend this text. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Maryann Pasda Diedwardo