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Zora Neale Hurston's Final Decade Hardcover – April 3, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
REVIEW. First published March 1, 2011 (Booklist).
In 1948, Hurston’s promising though iconoclastic career was nearly ruined by false accusations of child molestation. Sensationalized reporting by some in the black press added to a despair that drove Hurston nearly to suicide. But she returned to Florida, the setting of many of her works and a place of respite, where she continued to write for the next 12 years. Hurston also stirred up controversy by opposing the Brown decision and forced desegregation and developing friendships with politicians disfavored by civil rights veterans. Estranged from the black establishment, she nonetheless worked for racial justice, covering the trial of a black woman in Florida charged with the murder of her white lover, a prominent doctor. Hurston struggled with illness and penury before dying in a nursing home at 69, with her books out of print. Moylan interviewed Hurston’s friends and neighbors and drew on archival material, including never-before-published letters, to offer this look at the final decade in the life of a woman who was a writer, an anthropologist, and a folklorist unafraid to challenge conventions. — Vanessa Bush
"With a cover designed to resemble the Harper Perennial editions of Hurston's fiction, this book embodies the affirmative spirit of its subject. This is so even though Moylan (independent scholar) is chronicling Hurston's last, difficult decade, in which she was unemployed, her works were out of print, and her solidarity with the African American community was diminished by her dislike of the Supreme Court's desegregation ruling. Despite some mistakes (e.g., the right-wing Florida senator Hurston supported was Spessard Holland, not "Spencer"), Moylan proves a reliable, informative guide. The reader learns about unfinished projects like the picaresque "The Lives of Barney Turk." She provides a crucial, deft analysis of Hurston's unpublished novel on King Herod the Great, in which Hurston attempted both an anticommunist allegory and a revision of normative biblical history. And Moylan gives a judicious account of Hurston's attitude toward desegregation, writing that Hurston feared it would rob "black children of traditions that contributed to their individual and cultural identities." Hurston got it wrong, but few people got both anticommunism and antiracism right in that era. Moylan shows that however uncomfortable one might feel with Hurston's later years, they are an integral part of this great American writer's story. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division" --Choice
undergraduates and above. N. Birns The New School
Top Customer Reviews
Hurston's name was very familiar because I knew she lived and had a strong connection to St. Augustine. I, too, read it and gave it five stars. Reading the book drew me to find out more about Hurston and her connection to St. Augustine.
Hurston was nationally known as a folklorist, anthropologist and author. She was an outspoken pubic figure who never shied away from controversy.
The early part of her life promised a fulfilling life of writing and travel, however according to what I had read, that was not the case. After reading a short bio there was a reference to a molestation charge while she was living in Harlem and that she died in abject poverty in a welfare home.
When I came across this excellent book by Virginia Lynn Moylan it seemed the ideal read for my curious nature as to the last years of Zora Neal Hurston.
The book written by a Florida author Moylan, proved to be much more than I expected. There were many more references to St. Augustine and the author even acknowledged to my surprise, local folks, some of which I've known all my life.
Hurston was also very good friends with Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings who lived in St. Augustine (and Cross Creek and Crescent Beach as well) with her husband Norton Baskin, a hotelier who owned Castle Warden Hotel (built in the 1880's by an employee of Henry Flagler) and is now Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum. Hurston stayed with the Rawlings at the hotel and corresponded for years with Rawlings.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I happened across this book by chance at a local bookstore and being a fan of Miss Zora's, knew I had to read it. As the title implies, this book is about the last ten years of Ms. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Nancy A
Inspired again by women who have struggled and ideas were beyond their times. It's good we remember these role modelsPublished 3 months ago by christine
Comprehensive and interesting! The author's writing style was warm and drew me in. She included information and anecdotes I hadn't read before and captured Hurston's enigmatic... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Susan