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

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  •  Yes, I appreciate all the knowledge and thought (3+ / 0-)
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    peregrine kate, poco, RiveroftheWest

    that you two have brought to the debate here, thank you.

    Now I get where these other writers were at in '37. They were committed to the frontlines of an ideological battle for the soul, power and potential of being black. They felt that Hurston was retreating, was weakening the gains they were making. On a political level, though I think they were over-simplifying, I see their perspective.

    Artistically, Their Eyes Were Watching God is easy to underestimate. There is a lot more craft, depth and subtly-wrought magic there than appears at first glance. Now that I'm reading the essays on it, I find that many critics have read the book as a kind of romantic daydream, with Janie looking for the man who will complete her. But she is such a powerful agent, and she makes such a strong journey through the several  stages of the book. Yes, she settles into the role Jody prescribes for her as his good wife. But her struggles with him add up so naturally over time, we can see how ready she is to transcend that place when he dies. I loved the steps toward enlightenment. Again, when she starts with Tea Cake, it takes her several steps and some setbacks before she can open herself fully to a larger love and a fuller Janie than she was before. Also the ways Hurston shows us the power of storytelling and voice, all the ways relationships and community work - a lot of wisdom and power in this book.

    It seems to me that Hurston's peers failed to see all the craft, thought, and human energy that Zora fit into this book. They were against it on principle, and failed to suspend their disbelief and let their hearts take the immersive journey that the book is about.

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

    by Brecht on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 02:52:53 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

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