Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Their Eyes Were Watching God Paperback – Deckle Edge, May 30, 2006
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
At the height of the Harlem Renaissance during the 1930s, Zora Neale Hurston was the preeminent black woman writer in the United States. She was a sometime-collaborator with Langston Hughes and a fierce rival of Richard Wright. Her stories appeared in major magazines, she consulted on Hollywood screenplays, and she penned four novels, an autobiography, countless essays, and two books on black mythology. Yet by the late 1950s, Hurston was living in obscurity, working as a maid in a Florida hotel. She died in 1960 in a Welfare home, was buried in an unmarked grave, and quickly faded from literary consciousness until 1975 when Alice Walker almost single-handedly revived interest in her work.
Of Hurston's fiction, Their Eyes Were Watching God is arguably the best-known and perhaps the most controversial. The novel follows the fortunes of Janie Crawford, a woman living in the black town of Eaton, Florida. Hurston sets up her characters and her locale in the first chapter, which, along with the last, acts as a framing device for the story of Janie's life. Unlike Wright and Ralph Ellison, Hurston does not write explicitly about black people in the context of a white world--a fact that earned her scathing criticism from the social realists--but she doesn't ignore the impact of black-white relations either:
It was the time for sitting on porches beside the road. It was the time to hear things and talk. These sitters had been tongueless, earless, eyeless conveniences all day long. Mules and other brutes had occupied their skins. But now, the sun and the bossman were gone, so the skins felt powerful and human. They became lords of sounds and lesser things. They passed nations through their mouths. They sat in judgment.One person the citizens of Eaton are inclined to judge is Janie Crawford, who has married three men and been tried for the murder of one of them. Janie feels no compulsion to justify herself to the town, but she does explain herself to her friend, Phoeby, with the implicit understanding that Phoeby can "tell 'em what Ah say if you wants to. Dat's just de same as me 'cause mah tongue is in mah friend's mouf."
Hurston's use of dialect enraged other African American writers such as Wright, who accused her of pandering to white readers by giving them the black stereotypes they expected. Decades later, however, outrage has been replaced by admiration for her depictions of black life, and especially the lives of black women. In Their Eyes Were Watching God Zora Neale Hurston breathes humanity into both her men and women, and allows them to speak in their own voices. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Their Eyes belongs in the same categorywith that of William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingwayof enduring American literature." -- Saturday Review
"The prototypical Black novel of affirmation; it is the most successful, convincing, and exemplary novel of Blacklove that we have. Period." -- June Jordon, Black World
"There is no book more important to me than this one." -- Alice Walker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
At first the language of the book (the author used a lot of "black vernacular") was a major stumbling block to my understanding of the story, however, when I got used to it (and re-read the book a second time after I had read over the helpful commentaries) I was then able to appreciate it for the great book it is.
Zora Neale Hurston's decision to achieve verisimilitude by using the lively vernacular of African-Americans in the early 1900s American South transformed this book from a great novel to the lofty status, attributed to very few in the Western Canon, of "transcendent."
Her piercing and prismatic prose entrances the reader like Etta James singing the blues to the rhythm and flow of Janie Crawford's journey from a young teen given by her grandmother as wife to an old man (after being caught kissing a boy) to her 17-year-old self being swept away by a fast-talking and dapper traveling salesman who turned out to be an abusive, chauvinistic husband, and then to a mid-to-late 30s widow finding love, passion and zeal for life in a man named "Teacake," more than a decade her junior.
Ms. Hurston then brews up and heaves upon the reader a hellish hurricane crossing south-central Florida and breeching the banks of Lake Okeechobee. The passage from which the book's name was derived is both profound and symbolic:
“It is so easy to be hopeful in the daytime when you can see the things you wish on. But it was night, it stayed night. Night was striding across nothingness with the whole round world in his hands . . . They sat in company with the others in other shanties, their eyes straining against cruel walls and their souls asking if He meant to measure their puny might against His. They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God.”
Another reason for the transcendence of THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD is its place as pioneering in speaking out for, and celebrating the voice of, African-American women, especially those in the South. She masterfully conveyed her message that these women were oppressed not only by whites but also by others (especially men and, maybe more significantly, by other women) in their own segregated communities, and that these women should not be defined by these oppressive labels. Perhaps most telling of all is the mainstream's rejection of the novel (after its publication in 1937) because it did not play its part in "racial uplift."
And so it is that Zora Neale Hurston's novel, even today, hasn't "finished saying what it has to say."