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View Diary: Books Go Boom!   Zora Neale Hurston's 'Their Eyes Were Watching God' (86 comments)

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  •  I'll wager you're an expert on Hurston compared to (6+ / 0-)

    most of us in this diary - you're certainly teaching me a lot. Thank you.

    I was just railing (below) against the "zero-sum game" of Literary Politics: why did Wright and Ellison tear Hurston down, when they should have been her most sympathetic audience? But you explain here that it was more of a zero-sum game than I realized, on many levels (very few white patrons and sponsors; different movements necessarily competing; limiting fashions for what was "authentically" black - how can you be black enough to impress white patrons, without being so black that you scare them?).

    As you say, "Hurston is a fascinating person, as full of contradictions as any of us." She seems exceptionally complex and turbulent. Look at all the contradictions she had to live through, before you even get to her own complex personality. Here Hurston was, beset by all these pressures and unfairness; at the same time, the Harlem Renaissance was opening up more artistic possibilities than her mother could have dreamed of. Zora has all this toughness and hunger, sensitivity and creative zest: and with all this, and all she accomplished, she still gets put out to pasture for the last decade of her life.

    When nothing else could take her down, Zora was hit with a blow she would never recover from. She was falsely accused of molesting a ten-year-old mentally retarded boy. Her passport logs her as out of the country at the time, and her publisher stood by her side. Later, the boy said he'd lied and the charges were dropped. But a bout of depression began Zora's slow decline. She wrote less, and struggled through a variety of short-term jobs. Despite her previous popularity, she died poor in 1960. And despite her attempts to establish a cemetery to remember famous blacks, she was buried without a marker.
    I'm going to go read the whole biography of Hurston (all 3 webpages) that I just linked to.

    Have you read any writing of Hurston's beyond Their Eyes Were Watching God? If so, do you remember what you thought of it?

    "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

    by Brecht on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 11:46:23 PM PST

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    •  I honestly don't remember at the moment, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, Brecht, poco

      but I will see what I can unearth from my memory and my library in storage. I think I read parts at least of Mules and Men, which was a fun read, but that's all I can say for now.
      She had such a vital, snappy voice, all her prose practically jumps off the page. I imagine that's consistent throughout almost everything she wrote.

      Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

      by peregrine kate on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 08:26:23 PM PST

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