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Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale…
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Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)

by Zora Neale Hurston

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
13,450233263 (3.98)1 / 774
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    Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Kincaid and Hurston have each set their moving, character-driven novels in atmospheric, sunny settings -- the Caribbean, and Florida respectively. Both novels explore haunting truths about identity, society, friendship and love as an African-American female protagonist gains new self-awareness and respect for her experiences.… (more)
  4. 11
    The Awakening by Kate Chopin (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Strong female protagonist causes a stir in a male-dominated society by going after the things she wants.
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English (231)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  All languages (233)
Showing 1-5 of 231 (next | show all)
What a beautiful book. One of the great hidden classics of the 20th century. ( )
  jeninmotion | Sep 24, 2018 |
Time to read another title from 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die
1001 Books has this to say about Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston (1903-1960):
Hurston was the mayor’s daughter in America’s first incorporated black town, where her social and political experience of African-American autonomy afforded a unique perspective on race. She eventually trained as an anthropologist, researching African-American folklore and oral culture in her native Florida. The dialogue in Their Eyes Were Watching God is written primarily in the strong Southern African-American dialect (framed by a standard English narrative), the pronunciation, rhythm and playfulness of which Hurston renders in rich detail using almost phonetic spelling. (p.388)
Well, I did find the dialogue difficult in this story of Janie Stark’s journey through life, determined to find love. For example:
‘You got mo’ nerve than me. When somebody talked mah husband intuh comin’ down heah tuh open up uh eatin’ place Ah never dreamt so many different kins uh black folks could colleck in one place. Did Ah never wouda come. (p.209)
I stumbled over kins, reading it first as rhyming with wins, and then had to reread to realise it meant kinds. I had to reread the whole passage to make sense of Did Ah never wouda come, i.e. to realise that there were missing words, as in If I had, (dreamt there were so many different kinds of black folks in one place) I never would have come. But I persisted, and it was worth it. Their Eyes Were Watching God is a spirited, confident novel which while not ignoring the racism that made all-Black incorporated towns attractive to people of colour, sets it aside. Racism does not define these characters. Dealing with the struggle against it is not the focus of the novel. Instead it tells the universal human story of a woman who has a vision of love that she will not give up.

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2018/09/04/their-eyes-were-watching-god-by-zora-neale-hurston-bookreview/ ( )
  anzlitlovers | Sep 4, 2018 |
I enjoyed this book far more than I expected to. It is a rich and vibrant tale of love and laughter, life and loss, told from the viewpoint of Janie Crawford, the granddaughter of a slave and a child of rape. My impression is that it would fit very well in a women's studies class. Janie's marriages to three different men and the different ways that each treated her and how she responded offers a wealth of discussion topics.
This is widely recognized as Hurston's greatest work but it wasn't received very favorably when it was first published. During the Harlem Renaissance black authors tried hard to come across as cultured and well-educated, partially in response to racist books that portrayed blacks very negatively. Their Eyes Were Watching God was considered an embarrassment when it was first published in its portrayal of rural uneducated Negroes with their uncultured speech and behavior. It wasn't until much later that the book was accepted as the rich portrayal of rural African American life with its vibrant tradition of storytelling that it is with none of the artificial masks that others resorted to. Zora Neale Hurston is truly a national treasure.

My thanks to the folks at the The Great American Read group at Goodreads for giving me the opportunity to read and discuss this and many other fine books. ( )
  Unkletom | Aug 25, 2018 |
If you haven't read Their Eyes Were Watching God, why? Read it. Now. I know that the dialogue can be difficult to follow at first, but after a while, you notice that Hurston followed a pattern. Ah = I, keer = care, skeered = scared, etc. Not the whole book is like that either, only the dialogue, though the dialogue is important. Zora Neale Hurston creates Janie Crawford, a young black woman in the 1930s. We follow her life as she searches for who she really is and I think in the end, the Janie who sits talking with Pheoby, that's who she really is.
( )
  Loni.C. | Aug 17, 2018 |
I tried reading this book some time ago and couldn't get through the vernacular, but when I saw it as an audiobook (my local library offers hoopla) with Rudy Dee as narrator, I was delighted. The wonderful Ruby Dee's narration hits all the humor/satire marks. Only thing I can add to other reviews is that I liked that it was rich with porch-sitting characters. Also, I liked the subtle way, Janie, the main character, grows to become her own woman, considering the decade in which it was written. ( )
  PaperDollLady | Aug 3, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hurston, Zora Nealeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Danticat, EdwidgeForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dee, RubyReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Diaz, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gates Jr., Henry LouisAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pinkney, JerryIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, ZadieIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Washington, Mary HelenForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Williams, Sherley AnneAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
To Henry Allen Moe
First words
Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board.
When I first read Their Eyes Were Watching God, in the early 1970's, I devoured it as one devours the most satisfying romantic fiction - the kind that stems from reality and that can, in the broadest sense, become real for oneself. (Introduction)
I first encountered Zora Neale Hurston in an Afro-American literature course I took in graduate school. (Afterword)
Quotations
This singing she heard that had nothing to do with her ears. the rose of the world was breathing out smell. It followed her through all her waking moments and caressed her in her sleep. It connected itself with other vaguely felt matters that had struck her outside observation and buried themselves in her flesh. Now they emerged and quested about her consciousness...

She was stretched on her back beneath the pear tree soaking in the alto chant of the visiting bees, the gold of the sun and the panting breath of the breeze when the inaudible voice of it all came to her.
Love is lak de sea. It's uh movin' thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from de shore it meets, and it's different with every shore.
Janie saw her life like a great tree in leaf with the things suffered, things enjoyed, things done and undone. Dawn and doom was in the branches.
She saw a dust bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight. So this was a marriage!
There is a basin in the mind where words float around on thought and thought on sound and sight. Then there is a depth of thought untouched by words, and deeper still a gulf of formless feelings untouched by thought.
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Book description
This is the story a girl who searches for the love she believes is true. Throughout her struggles she gains strength, independence, and wisdom. She overcomes the obstacles in her path to chase her dreams and they take her places she never thought she'd end up.

We read this book for class last year. And I don't like Janie at all. I think she's flighty, annoying, childish, and selfish. I don't like Janie but I do like what she learns throughout her life. I appreciate that she is determined and willing to fight for what she wants and believes.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0061120065, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:31 -0400)

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A novel about black Americans in Florida that centers on the life of Janie and her three marriages.

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