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Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)

by Zora Neale Hurston

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
17,151321248 (3.98)1 / 916
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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English (314)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  Swedish (1)  French (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (319)
Showing 1-5 of 314 (next | show all)
A classic originally published in 1937.

My review has disappeared from Goodreads. All I remember is that I just found the story so-so. The movie was also just so-so. I found the acting questionable. ( )
  MissyIvey | Sep 20, 2022 |
Another fabulous book by Zora Neale Hurston. I don't really know how to describe it. The dialect was a bit challenging but once you got used to it, the story was haunting as much as it was beautifully written. Janie's experiences from her first to her third marriage were so different and brought out different aspects of her personality. I also learned a lot about the way black Americans thought about each other. The greater respect they showed lighter skinned people compared to those with darker skin was so sad. The efforts people made to bring joy into their lives tears at the heart. But the most important part of the book was Janie's growth and perceptions as she travels through her marriages. ( )
  krazy4katz | Sep 9, 2022 |
This was a re-read; I hadn't read this book since my AP Lit class in high school. For which, even though I will never forgive her for completely forgetting who I was within five months of taking her class, I am very grateful to my teacher for assigning us this book. I've been obsessed with this structure ever since, so it was very fun to revisit.

I also listened to the audiobook, which felt more like a theatrical production. The narrator went all out; usually I struggle with a narrator trying to do different voices for different characters, but this one made me think that maybe other narrators just aren't going far enough. This one was awesome and it felt like an entirely new experience. ( )
  graceandbenji | Sep 1, 2022 |
"Some people could look at a mud puddle and see an ocean with ships."

One of the many quotes you'll find in Zora Neale Hurston's novel you will find that I fell in love with. While I wouldn't say this is my favorite novel, ZNH has become one of top favorite authors. Not only is her life interesting, her words attract me too. She has her own voice, something in the literary world I care most about.

Similar to Faulkner and Twain, what stand out with this novel compared to others is the dialogue. ZNH jumps back and forth with the everyday narration to the the Southern dialect with here characters speech. For some this can make the book a difficult read and maybe not a fan of her work. For me at least, it was a little difficult at first, but after a few chapters I got use to it and listened to the words rather then read the words. It would be interesting to listen to an audio version of this book.

I liked the main character a lot too. I didn't find Janie flat or underdeveloped. ZNH does an excellent job giving Janie a separate voice from the author. I don't know everything about ZNH, but I've read enough about her knowing her life isn't this book. Like ZNH though, Janie has a voice as a fiction character.

ZNH writes this novel like a folklore I noticed. I know she collected and wrote folktales in her life and with this book is shows. There some kind of charm and magic to this story and her words I think. It could be the names in the book too. Janie's name is pretty standard, but characters like Tea Cake give the book a unique way of telling a story.

My only negative review for this is not being about to read this for the first time ever again. This is my first full book I've read of ZNH (only reading a sample of her story Poker before). This book reads quick once you get the hang of the language. Not sure if I'd want this book any longer than it was though. At least I have a new goal to read all of ZNH's works. I think she is one of the best! ( )
  Ghost_Boy | Aug 25, 2022 |
Sorry, but the dialect is hard to concentrate on for me and I am 1/3 of the way through without caring a whit for any of the characters, including Janie. This might be one of those rare books that would work better as an audio book.

My life is too short and my reading time too limited to continue to read on this one...so, I am DNFing. I seldom DNF and this is the second one in a week that I have given up on. I do hope I make a better choice in my next read. ( )
  mattorsara | Aug 11, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 314 (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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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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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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