- Fizzy Thoughts: Their Eyes Were Watching God

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Their Eyes Were Watching God
Zora Neale Hurston
1937
219 pages

I read this book in honor of Banned Books Week. And yes, I know that was two weeks ago. I started it during Banned Books Week, so in my book, that counts.

Why was this book challenged? In 1997, it was challenged by a parent in Virginia who objected to the novel’s language and sexual explicitness. All I’ve got to say to that is boy…you don’t read much, do you? Because if you think this book is sexually explicit, have I got some books for you. On second thought…stay away from my books. Although may I recommend this?

I have owned this book for so long I don’t even remember when and where I acquired it. It’s not even something I would typically read, since I tend to stay within the decade (i.e.: I like contemporary authors). I mean, I practically got hives when I found out Geek Love was first published in 1983. Luckily, that reading experience turned out well in the end.

Plus, I took this book with me to Davis…it was one of only three books I packed for a five day trip. I think I was placing a lot of faith in this book. Luckily, it didn’t disappoint (ack, that sounds like a food review, or something).

This is what the publisher has to say about the book:
One of the most important works of twentieth-century American literature, Zora Neale Hurston's beloved 1937 classic, Their Eyes Were Watching God is an enduring Southern love story sparkling with wit, beauty, and heartfelt wisdom. Told in the captivating voice of a woman who refuses to live in sorrow, bitterness, fear, or foolish romantic dreams, it is the story of fair-skinned, fiercely independent Janie Crawford, and her evolving selfhood through three marriages and a life marked by poverty, trials, and purpose. A true literary wonder, Hurston's masterwork remains as relevant and affecting today as when it was first published — perhaps the most widely read and highly regarded novel in the entire canon of African American literature.

There is some absolutely gorgeous writing in this book. And in contrast, all of the dialogue is in a phonetic vernacular, so that the reader definitely hears the characters voices. But remember how when I reviewed Oscar Wao I said I love writers who write like people talk, but that comment was going to bite me in the butt when I write my review of Their Eyes Were Watching God? Well, I appreciate why she did it, but I had a hard time concentrating on some of the words that Hurston used for the dialogue. Ah for I tripped me up half the time. My inner-southerness wasn’t helping me out with this one. Despite that little quibble, it’s a beautiful book. She is not a political author…rather she captures the everyday lives and struggles of her characters.

But…did you know that the author died in a welfare home? Zora Neale Hurston was a highly educated and accomplished woman (she received a BA in anthropology), but much of her work was not well-received in her lifetime.



2 comment(s):

literatehousewife said...

This is my favorite book from my undergraduate years and your review makes me want to read it again. It was absolutely beautiful. Thanks for the great review!

Ladytink_534 said...

Love that picture. Really, really great review. Those nutty banning and burning people need to stay away from my books too!

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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