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Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)

by Zora Neale Hurston

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
18,433337248 (3.98)1 / 949
Janie Crawford, a Southern Black woman in the 1930's, journeys from being a free-spirited girl to a woman of independence and substance.
  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. 21
    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.
1930s (20)
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» See also 949 mentions

English (328)  French (1)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (333)
Showing 1-5 of 328 (next | show all)
I wanted to like this when I read it, although I found that I didn’t, because I was reading it to read “good” lit and be inclusive, and I found that it was about people and love and such, and being about Blacks I wanted to include wasn’t enough to make me get over my personality types things with friends and lovers, you know.

I’d probably enjoy it more if I read it again, but if a similar sort of box opened up in my reading schedule I’d probs read a third Toni Morrison or maybe a second Zora Neale, you know.

It certainly is good lit, like Jane Austen, although I suppose maybe it’s more like Dickens via the issue of dialect, kinda wandering over towards the borderline of old pop lit, you know, although it is still more like any other good-lit friends and lovers book than a ghetto romance or Twilight, not that the latter two types are inherently evil, and some people might even find them easier to read.

I think that a lot of intellectuals who read books like this mask what they really feel, if they even know themselves, and then there’s the issue of it being about a Black chick which can kinda exacerbate the thing where you distance/hide, you know. People do that with Greek stuff, too, though—you have this idea of Homer, right, that has nothing to do with the swords clashing or anything else about the poems. (shrugs) But when I first read this book I was an “intellectual”, and there were many things I would have liked to hide if that had been my standing policy, and it was embarrassing not to, you know. (I’ve deleted that review now, since it no longer reflects me.)

(shrugs) But I don’t know. Back in the 1920s, say, even the Black people in this book sided with the white men’s knowledge over the Native people’s intuition regarding the coming storm, you know….

Anyway, the point is, Janie had a number of relationships, and there was good and bad, but one at least had very strong positive elements. It was very painful and mortal, but in the end, I guess it was worth it. Tea Cake was a jerk at times, but he was also a sweet thing.

(shrugs) One of the few positive things they taught us in nerd class was that a thing about a book shouldn’t be a summary, but then also, contrariwise, after having read a book you should have some idea what it was about, you know. Not in terms of plot summary, but….

I mean, if you don’t like “good lit” you don’t like it, and if old good pop lit or whatever isn’t fun for you, it isn’t fun. But if you do like it, presumably you liked something about the book, not this bronze abstraction of the book, you know…. And you know, sometimes it’s harder to like people who don’t live in your town, but if you’re honest you might just learn that they’re people just like you, just with different personality patterns, right.
  goosecap | Aug 30, 2023 |
A classic first published in 1937 - Missing review! ( )
  MissysBookshelf | Aug 27, 2023 |
Their Eyes Were Watching God is a story about making mistakes, and having to grow and learn from those mistakes. Janie starts out her life sheltered and protected and runs off thinking that she is being repressed. She soon learns that perhaps she made a mistake, but has to learn from that. She gets a second chance and has learned and grown from her previous experiences. Every step she takes, she has to overcome some obstacle, but she marches on to become a beautiful, mature, strong woman. ( )
  LinBee83 | Aug 23, 2023 |
The lush layers of female voices—Hurston, her character Janie, and the brilliant Ruby Dee who brings them all to life through her reading/performance—made this my favorite novel of 2021. Just. So. Good. [a:Zora Neale Hurston|15151|Zora Neale Hurston|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1194472605p2/15151.jpg] mesmerized me with the poetic style that brings Janie's love of life into clear focus.

Janie inhabits and describes a world that unwinds before her as a marvel. A world where she is often swept along by the choices of others, but always maintains her own thoughts and secret hopes. Lyrical, unhurried and rich in the telling, Janie narrates her own life story with warmth and candor.

Ruby Dee's reading animates the ensemble of characters that Janie encounters. I laughed out loud at the storytellers, ached with longing, and felt Janie's anxiety during times of emotional and physical uncertainty.

I'll remember this Janie and her story for a long time. ( )
  rebwaring | Aug 14, 2023 |
I'm not finishing this. I'm having real problems with the language, and not enjoying it enough to makr up for it. ( )
  MarthaJeanne | Jul 30, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 328 (next | show all)

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hurston, Zora Nealeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boyd, ValerieContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Danticat, EdwidgeForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dee, RubyReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Diaz, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eley, HollyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gates, Henry Louis, Jr.Afterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pinkney, JerryIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, ZadieIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Washington, Mary HelenForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Williams, Sherley AnneAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Williams, Shirley AnneForewordsecondary 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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Janie Crawford, a Southern Black woman in the 1930's, journeys from being a free-spirited girl to a woman of independence and substance.

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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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