- Library Binding: 219 pages
- Publisher: Perfection Learning (January 1, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0756964334
- ISBN-13: 978-0756964337
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 7.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,463 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,078,425 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Their Eyes Were Watching God
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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 category -- with that of William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway -- of enduring American literature."-- "Saturday Review"" . . . thanks to this audiobook, Zora's characters speak to us - through the wonderful voice of Ruby Dee."-"The Heard Word"Dee is marvelous in all roles in this stage-worthy performance."-"AudioFile --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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By Janie's side are two pivotal influential women: Nanny (her Grandma) and Phoeby Janie's best friend. Nanny gives advices on her choices of a husband. Phoeby is on Janie's side all the way. She means to the reader to follow Janie's adventure as passionately as she does.
The protagonist is her own antagonist if any as she (Janie) is the only heroine of her time living intensively three marriages and no one to defeat her lifestyle. In the thirties a woman claiming freedom in a large sense, astonishes her community and clearly the reader.
In a cheerful and fascinating way Janie is revealing true and passionate love. In a crescendo, she handles her relationships pragmatically.
She leaves the first husband because she does not love him anymore; She is faithful, for thirty years, to the second `phallocratic' until his death; She melts into a third relationship with a much younger man who makes her discover a new way of happiness and fun. This third romance ended dramatically after the turmoil of a hurricane where one had to end the life of the other to survive.
In other words, gradually, the first marriage fails in a lost relationship, the second ends in disappointment, and the third cries out dramatically with accidental death. Per say, life is a struggle.
Nora Neale Hurston is ahead of her time with her novel superbly drawn with her main character embraced by the other characters in the story. The African-American English adds spice of the Southern living.
In her novel, the fundamental message of Nora Neale Hurston is to envision more freedom for women and the right to personal development in relation with love, marriage, work and fulfillment.
A must read several times around.
Hurston is just an amazing writer, a Harlem Renaissance writer and one of the first few women of color to write about female empowerment instead of racism, --although there is a scene(s) where she tackles the issue-- which is something that many African-American's were focusing on at that time. I really like how Hurston exposed Janie to very different men, which I think is an important concept that can be analyzed. I just really liked this book.
I had a hard time initially because much of the book is written in the African-American dialect of the South with which I am unfamiliar. Once I became comfortable with words and phrases, I found the story, the characters and the use of language very absorbing. The last several chapters kept me awake until way past my bedtime! Totally engrossing!
damn planet of testosterone. Janie realized that we create our own reality and what the price for that was. Nobody is going to applaud her efforts at self-sufficiency and independence because she's a woman, a 2nd class citizen, who is unwilling to play by someone else's rules. She makes her own rules and unlike the male gender doesn't leave a trail of corpses. And.....she still has a gratifying relationship when she decides to follow her own desires and not those of someone else. I think this Zora Neale Hurston deserves further exploration. I find her thinking very intriguing and very intelligent.
This book is a classic for a reason - enough said.