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Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)

by Zora Neale Hurston

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
16,121301246 (3.98)1 / 888
A novel about black Americans in Florida that centers on the life of Janie and her three marriages.
  1. 133
    The Color Purple by Alice Walker (aleahmarie)
  2. 61
    Beloved by Toni Morrison (BookshelfMonstrosity, MistaFrade)
  3. 20
    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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1930s (32)

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English (296)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  Swedish (1)  French (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (301)
Showing 1-5 of 296 (next | show all)
It was a bit hard to get through with the style it was written, kind of reminded me of Mark Twain in that respect. The horizon symbolism, power of voice, and the pear tree was really interesting and made this more religious book more tolerable. Janie's development shown through her relationships wasn't so bad, this was a pretty good book considering it was for school. ( )
  Nikki_Sojkowski | Aug 26, 2021 |
Hurston's writing is masterful. There are numerous lines that I wanted to absorb and enjoy like a fine piece of cake. More literary, relationship-focused books aren't usually my thing, but this did hook me, especially the last half--I really wanted to find out what would happen between her and Tea Cake! ( )
  ladycato | Aug 20, 2021 |
This is a beautifully written, lyrical yet genuine story of the life of a strong Black woman in the 1930s. It is a gorgeous story of the times. There are so many difficult subjects addressed within the book but they are laid out for the reader without trying to send a political or cultural message. It reads so true that it cuts to the heart. The beauty of the language is indescribable: "So she went on thinking in soft, easy phrases while all around the house, the night time put on flesh and blackness." Much of the book is written in vernacular, which some readers have complained of difficulty understanding, but for me it became very natural as the story progressed. And when the title phrase is revealed it is soft and exquisite: "The wind came back with triple fury, and put out the light for the last time. They sat in company with the others in other shanties, their eyes straining against crude walls and their souls asking if He meant to measure their puny might against His. They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God." ( )
  Shookie | Jul 26, 2021 |
After I finished reading this, I felt like Pheoby: "Ah done growed ten feet higher from jus' listenin' tuh you, Janie."

Although some of this book was troubling to this 21st-century feminist, when the book and its protagonist Janie are taken on their own terms, it's a compelling story, an epic romance, and a womanist version of the heroic quest. Above all, it does what every excellent book does: help us learn more about what it means to be human. ( )
  Charon07 | Jul 16, 2021 |
I listened to this on Audible. Ruby Dee was the narrator. This was the way to go. I got lost in her voice and her characterizations. ( )
1 vote scoene | Jul 13, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 296 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hurston, Zora Nealeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Danticat, EdwidgeForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dee, RubyReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Diaz, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eley, HollyIntroductionsecondary 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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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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A novel about black Americans in Florida that centers on the life of Janie and her three marriages.

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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.
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Average: (3.98)
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