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Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale…

Their Eyes Were Watching God (original 1937; edition 1986)

by Zora Neale Hurston, Sherley Anne Williams (Afterword), Holly Eley (Introduction), Zadie Smith (Introduction)

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11,545183233 (3.98)1 / 652
Title:Their Eyes Were Watching God
Authors:Zora Neale Hurston
Other authors:Sherley Anne Williams (Afterword), Holly Eley (Introduction), Zadie Smith (Introduction)
Info:Virago Press (1986), Paperback, 297 pages
Collections:Your library

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

Recently added bynospi, private library, bjoelle5, LaBla, mcclar, zachb, SamCanesi, jwallenberg, KSRood
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    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)
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Showing 1-5 of 179 (next | show all)
Incredible narration by Ruby Dee. Read and listened through immersion reading.
Fabulous book ( )
  nospi | Feb 7, 2016 |
Their Eyes Were Watching God tells the story of Janie, the granddaughter of a slave, and her relationships with three men: Logan, the old man her grandmother urges her to marry for security; Joe, the fast-talking mayor of an all-black town in Florida, who elevates Janie's social status, but only cares for her when she does what he wants; and Tea Cake, a charismatic young man half her age. Janie and Tea Cake find unexpected happiness working as field hands in the Florida Everglades (exactly the kind of life Janie's grandmother prayed her granddaughter would avoid), then tragedy strikes.

The dialogue in this novel was written in dialect, which I found hard to read. Still, this novel provides an uncommon view of a vibrant African-American culture that flourished despite Jim Crow laws. I found the cultural backdrop of the story more interesting than Janie and Tea Cake's romance, which did not resonate with me as much as it has with other readers. Moreover, many praise Janie as a strong feminist heroine, but I don't agree with that assessment. Throughout the novel, Janie is defined in terms of her relationships with (and attractiveness to) men.

I had wanted to read this book for a long time. I am glad I finally did. I recommend this work as an important piece of African-American literature. ( )
  akblanchard | Jan 30, 2016 |
A beautiful book, with joy and tragedy. This is the story of Janie, who grew up with her grandmother, who lived in the backyard of the white family she served, and who didn't know she was black until she saw a picture of herself as a little girl. Her grandmother only wanted the best for her, and so she arranged a marriage for Janie with an older man who had a farm - stability for Janie. When her husband was going to have Janie plow the fields, she ran off and married Jody - a man who was going to make a name for himself - and Janie again found herself unhappy, this time the wife of the mayor of a successful community in Florida. The third time was the charm, when Janie met and married Tea Cake, a simple man that would give Janie a happy, simple life. The book is filled with rich and luxuriant imagery. ( )
  LisaMorr | Jan 27, 2016 |
Their Eyes Were Watching God is listed on the 1001 Books That You Should Read Before You Die list, so of course I knew of its existence, but if I had known that it included so many of the elements that hold my attention I would have read it earlier.
This story is the trials, tribulations, love, love lost, and so much more of Janie. Janie is everything that I love about well written characters in quality literature. I know nothing of her life first hand. I have never been a black woman living her time, and I haven't had any of the trials and tribulations that she has had, yet...She is the most relatable of characters. Zora Neale Hurston did the most amazing thing in the way that she gifted me the ability to understand, see, and feel so much of Janie's life.
Janie and Tea Cake's love story is the portion that I was so drawn to. I will not spoil anything here, but I just need you to know how beautifully flawed and fricked up it is at times. From a reader's standpoint, this adds all sorts of internal conflict and later, a better understanding. Oh my gosh! So good!
Let me tell you, this will be a tough one to get settled into for some readers. The story is not complicated, although it is deep, but the language, particularly the dialogue is written in authentic slang. "I" is always written as "Ah", "That" as "Dat", etc. For this reason, I am not labeling this one as a good place to start if you are looking to jump into the genre.
That being said, if you are willing to take the challenge, please do. This book is the most highlighted and noted book that I have ever read. The deeper meaning within Janie's words, her experiences, the insightful quotes, were all too amazing to pass up. ( )
  StephLaymon | Jan 26, 2016 |
A book I had always heard about and was finally moved to read after I used a quotation from it ("There are years that ask questions and years that answer.") found--where else?--on Goodreads. I was carried along by the story, unsure of where it was going (it is nice to be surprised by a novel), and I was especially fond of Hurston's poetic interludes--interspersed throughout the book--where she let her imagination run wild (the mule's funeral comes to mind). A classic that lives up to its name, it is also interesting to hear about the mixed (and negative) reviews it received from writers like Richard Wright. I think Wright is wrong on this one... ( )
  bibleblaster | Jan 23, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Zora Neale Hurstonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gates Jr., Henry LouisAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Washington, Mary HelenForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Henry Allen Moe
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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)
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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Wikipedia in English (1)

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)

Meet the unforgettable Janie Crawford, an articulate African-American woman in the 1930s. Traces Janie's quest for identity, through three marriages, on a journey to her roots. When Janie Starks returns to her rural Florida home, her small black community is overwhelmed with curiosity about her relationship with a younger man.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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