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Topic: Their Eyes Were Watching God

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Subject: Their Eyes Were Watching God
Date Posted: 2/17/2009 12:32 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
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I'm only two chapters into this book and the writing is so good! Anyone else read it?

Here are the first few lines:

Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of site, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time. That is the life of men.

Now, women forget all those things they don't want to remember, and remember everything they don't want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly.

 

Janie Crawford goes on a lifelong search for unconditional and fulfilling love, which she finally finds with her beloved Tea Cake. During her quest, Janie gains inner strength and independence — all while enduring the harsh judgment of the town gossips known as the "porch sitters." Through Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston served as one of the first female African-American voices of the early 20th century.

Date Posted: 2/17/2009 12:37 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
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It's so good!  We did a quarter on the Harlem Rennaisance when I has in High School, and I read it then.  So, so worth reading.

Date Posted: 2/17/2009 1:28 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
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Caviglia, I just learned there is a movie with Halle Berry. Have you seen it? Worth renting?

Date Posted: 2/17/2009 1:48 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
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I haven't.  I just looked it up on imdb and it looks pretty terrible.

Date Posted: 2/17/2009 8:09 PM ET
Member Since: 4/16/2008
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I read this book in high school. It wasn't really my thing. I don't remember it being horrible but I don't remember liking it either. I'm glad you are enjoying it though :)

Date Posted: 2/19/2009 8:31 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
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I should have added that I'm listening to an audio version of the book. The vernacular is throwing me a bit so I also look up chapter summaries here: http://www.cliffsnotes.com/WileyCDA/LitNote/Their-Eyes-Were-Watching-God.id-132.html 

 

Date Posted: 2/20/2009 8:03 AM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2008
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It was rather...interesting. The ending was just gripping, though.

Date Posted: 7/5/2009 7:59 PM ET
Member Since: 7/3/2009
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This is one of my favorite books actually. I read it my sophomore year of college. I really didn't expect to care for this book much but I really enjoyed the story.

Date Posted: 7/5/2009 8:42 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
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Oh, Sheila------I just wish that every American girl or woman would read this book.  And I do mean every, whether black, white, Latino, or Asian or some other ethnicity!

It's kind of surprising to find a 'feminist' novel written as early as 1937, isn't it?

Date Posted: 7/5/2009 9:46 PM ET
Member Since: 7/3/2009
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I think the feminist element is what makes the novel so interesting. I don't know enough about Zora Neale Hurston to know if that was her full intent or not, but it worked very well.

Date Posted: 7/5/2009 11:32 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
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Zora Neal Thurston was an anthropologist, so right there she grabs my attention.  IIRC she specialized in black folklore. This is probably why she nails the black vernacular in this poetically written story. She also received great criticism for using it.

It's a great story. My favorite part in Eyes...  is of the town mule who is freed from his abusive owner. It is hilariously written in Mark Twain style.

Read it. Like Caviglia says, it's worth it. It's also loaded with symbolism. Great fun to pick it out.

Enjoy

Date Posted: 7/6/2009 1:43 PM ET
Member Since: 6/21/2009
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I read this book in college and didn't like it all that much. Felt it was a bit too preachy and melodramatic.
Date Posted: 7/6/2009 9:49 PM ET
Member Since: 7/3/2009
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Pretty sure I focused on that mule heavily when I had an exam on the book.

Date Posted: 7/7/2009 11:12 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
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The mule part did make me smile. I always appreciate a little levity in my reading. This was a book that I was glad I glaced at the Cliff Notes now and then because I did miss some of the symbolism and it helped me better understand a couple of events.

Date Posted: 7/7/2009 12:08 PM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2009
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RE Zora Neale Hurston: I got to hear a talk once by an older lady, very good scholar who had done a good deal of work on Hurston. I showed her ideas I had for several papers I later wrote, and she emphasized this: never forget that she was an anthropologist first.

Date Posted: 7/7/2009 10:54 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
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Interesting, that Hurston was an anthropologist first, but wrote such a first-rate novel.  This thread made me remember another such case, that of A Sweetness in the Belly, by Camilla Gibbs.  Gibbs was/is a cultural anthropologist first, but her novel about an English girl  brought up by a Sufi mystic in Morocco after her parents were murdered there is so capably written that you'd suppose the author to be a novelist by profession.  Her knowledge of Islam and customs and folkways in Ethiopia (locale of the latter part of the book)is pretty impressive

Date Posted: 7/15/2009 8:37 AM ET
Member Since: 6/27/2005
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I love it, too, Shelia; especially the first lines that you quoted. I think they're the greatest first lines I've ever read!

Date Posted: 7/16/2009 2:57 PM ET
Member Since: 9/25/2006
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re John's quotation by the expert "never forget that she was an anthropologist first"

True. The book works as an ethnoography of life in the Everglades in 1920s; a linguistic survey of local speech; an overview of the roles of men and women; what can happen to a society after a natural disaster. There's a lot of social science going on in that novel.

Just as an aside, I thought Tea Cake was cool. He started as ramblin' gamblin' man but marriage gave him focus. Gone are the days when one's harmonica playing skills will win a lady's heart, though. Or are they really gone?

Date Posted: 7/16/2009 5:31 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
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No, those days ain't altogether gone, Matt!   But besides playing one's harmonica for the lady, you'd be well advised to learn how to fashion and deliver gracious little compliments to her on whatever it is about her and her ways that pleases you.  Just a helpful hint from a lady whose heart was won, once, by a swain who sent her red roses ()plastic ones!).

Date Posted: 7/16/2009 11:07 PM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2009
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For anyone whose interest in Zora Neale Hurston has been piqued, try her definitive biography, Zora Neale Hurston: A Literary Biography, by Robert E. Hemenway . Nothing she wrote matched her own life.

Date Posted: 7/19/2009 3:44 AM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2009
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I wouldn't say *nothing* she wrote matched her own life; Dust Tracks on a Road is an autobiography, after all. :-)

Date Posted: 7/19/2009 2:07 PM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2009
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I didn't mean qualitatively. I mean the story she wrote and revised that was her life.

Date Posted: 7/21/2009 9:24 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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Thanks for all of the additional info about Hurston and everyone's comments - I see a few titles to add to my TBR.

Matt - I thought Teacake was cool also :-)

Date Posted: 9/11/2009 8:11 PM ET
Member Since: 12/22/2008
Posts: 533
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I love this book.  Definitely worth a re-read.