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Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale…
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Their Eyes Were Watching God (original 1937; edition 1998)

by Zora Neale Hurston

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13,822241260 (3.98)1 / 798
Member:CindyFrag
Title:Their Eyes Were Watching God
Authors:Zora Neale Hurston
Info:Harper Perennial Modern Classics (1998), Paperback
Collections:Your library, To read
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Tags:Own, TBR

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

  1. 123
    The Color Purple by Alice Walker (aleahmarie)
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    Beloved by Toni Morrison (BookshelfMonstrosity, MistaFrade)
  3. 10
    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 (239)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  All languages (241)
Showing 1-5 of 239 (next | show all)
She has a magic way with words. ( )
  badube | Mar 6, 2019 |
3.5 if I recall correctly. It's been a long time since I read it. ( )
  tkcs | Feb 23, 2019 |
Now, women forget all those things they don't want to remember, and remember everything they don't want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly.

There was a deliberate avoiding of secondary literature before I plunged into this over the holiday weekend. That decision is mysterious to me. Their Eyes Were Watching God is of that lauded rank which everyone assumes you've read, I waded into the depths of Ms. Hurston's novel and marveled. It is a time for a confession, dialogue written in dialect can wear on me, especially if I'm knackered.

The construction of the novel is intriguing, a woman returns to town after a lengthy absence. She avoids the hecklers and gossips and instead confides in her best friend. The confession doesn't begin with her departure but rather with her earliest memories of living as a black female in the south. Life then becomes a series of adventures, or perhaps men, as each episode appears contoured by the relationship. It isn't a modest affair in terms of detail but there are no children. The unfolding becomes a quest for that spark, time under a tree appreciating the golden hue of pollen and the eternal drone of attraction and creation. This motivation is to move beyond expectations, outside of the limiting circumstances. Sounds like a lot of ambition to me.

The concluding scenes in the hurricane offered a confused majesty. Nature's violence upends human design. The inundation of the elements leaves the protagonist quixotic and the reader delighted and weary. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
Very well written story. It was concise but very evocative. The heroine was a model of humanity, yet alone womanhood and African American. The lessons about living a life are strong and meaningful for all. This short book is a hidden gem. Thank you PBS for the Great American Read best 100 list. The Afterword by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was very good too. ( )
  DonaldPowell | Feb 5, 2019 |
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston is a short novel that packs a big punch both in storyline and in information about the black experience in southern America during the early part of the 20th century. The story is set in Florida and is told in a series of flashbacks as the main character, Janie Crawford, a black woman now in her early forties, tells her story to her best friend.

Janie’s story unfolds against a backdrop of the relationships with three very different men than has shaped her life. Janie, a child born of rape from a woman who was also the product of rape, is raised by her grandmother. Nanny fearing that the beautiful Janie will also become a victim, arranges a marriage between her granddaughter and an older farmer, she believes this will give Janie the stability she wants her to have. Janie desires love and does not find it with this man so after her grandmother dies, she runs off with the smooth talking Joe Starks. But this is a controlling and ambitious man who treats her as property and strikes her to keep her in line. When Joe dies Janie is left financially independent but falls in love with a younger man, “Tea Cake” who is both a gambler and a drifter. While this relationship never runs smooth, Janie has finally found love. However a hurricane strikes and brings disaster.

Originally published in 1935, this American classic is written beautifully and serves as a testament to a woman’s strength and endurance. Janie develops from a manageable young teenage girl into a strong woman who is able to steer her own destiny. Written in the black vernacular of the 1930’s, the prose is poetic and the insights are astute. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Jan 11, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 239 (next | show all)
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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.
Last words
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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)

(see all 9 descriptions)

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

(summary from another edition)

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