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Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)

de Zora Neale Hurston

Altres autors: Mira la secció altres autors.

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaConverses / Mencions
16,815316246 (3.98)1 / 910
A novel about black Americans in Florida that centers on the life of Janie and her three marriages.
  1. 133
    The Color Purple de Alice Walker (aleahmarie)
  2. 61
    Beloved de Toni Morrison (BookshelfMonstrosity, MistaFrade)
  3. 20
    Annie John de 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.… (més)
  4. 11
    El Despertar de 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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1930s (20)
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Besides having a lit major-gasm of sorts (What is with the symbolism of feet and toes?! Have got to re-read those parts!), re-reading Their Eyes for the first time in 20 years got me to thinking about feminist characters in literature. I've read a few too many stories lately where a well-intentioned author tries to create a feminist heroine by making the female protagonist practically superhuman, with preternatural intelligence or kindness or bravery or [fill in desirable personality trait here].

Janie is not that kind of heroine. She is stumbling along, finding her voice and her soul as she goes, seeing herself as others reflect her, just like the rest of us. Janie is real. Janie is a relief. ( )
  IVLeafClover | Jun 21, 2022 |
This was a reread for me, for maybe the third time. I love this book! Hurston is a master of imagery, which is what kept jumping out to me during this reread. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. writes in the afterward, “She is ‘naming’ emotions…in language both deeply personal and culturally specific.” Though he is referring to a different piece, I think this statement also applies to the style Hurston uses here. 100%, 5 star, pick. ( )
  psalva | Jun 6, 2022 |
In honor of Banned Books Week 2013, my local public library had a lovely display of a variety of books. This one caught my eye. I think the thing that still gets me, and I am not sure why, is that it is written in 1937. This book, along with "To Kill A Mockingbird," were written in times I assumed would be difficult for a woman to be published. I know women wrote, but to be published...? I had also wrongly assumed that Harper Lee was a man. Yikes. Maybe I am a sexist. I have never, ever thought of myself that way.

Anyway, to my review of this story. I really enjoyed this book. I found the characters rich and full. I really liked Janie and felt for her in each of her marriages. I read this primarily because it was banned but also because it dealt with the South and their culture. I found Janie to be a very open and aware young woman. I looked up why this book was banned, and not surprisingly, the sexual content is what nailed it. The passage about the bees and the flowers was delightfully erotic but scientifically true. I believe Janie was solely looking for that moment in all of her relationships, but aren't we all? That moment when the world moves and there is no where else you'd rather be. That should be what happens within a marriage; she quickly found out otherwise. A heartbreaking love story, for sure.

Janie is a deep thinker. She was quieted by a strong man. This is what she learned:
"Most humans didn't love one another nohow, and this mislove was so strong that even common blood couldn't overcome it all the time. She had found a jewel down inside herself and she had wanted to walk where people could see her and gleam it around. But she had been set in the market-place to sell. Been set for stillbait. When God had made The Man, he made him out of stuff that sung all the time and glittered all over. Then after that some angels got jealous and chopped him into millions of pieces, but still he glittered and hummed. So they beat him down to nothing but sparks but each little spark had a shine and a song. So they covered each one over with mud. And the lonesomeness in the sparks made them hunt for one another, but the mud is deaf and dumb. Like all the other tumbling mud-balls, Janie had tried to show her shine."

Moving on, and marrying a new, young, dark man, Janie enounters a woman who is racist and because Janie herself is lighter-skinned, tries to get Janie to quit her darker husband and go with her son. Again, Janie's thoughts run deep:
"Anyone who looked more white folkish than herself (Mrs. Turner) was better than she was in her criteria, therefore it was right that they should be cruel to her at times, just as she was cruel to those more negroid than herself in direct ratio to their negroness. Like the pecking-order in a chicken yard. Insensate cruelty to those you can whip, and groveling submission to those you can't. Once having set up her idols and built altars to them it was inevitable that she would worship there. It was inevitable that she should accept any inconsistency and cruelty from her deity as all good worshippers do from theirs. All gods who receive homage are cruel. All gods dispense suffering without reason. Otherwise they would not be worshipped. Through indiscriminate suffering men know fear and fear is the most divine emotion. It is the stones for altars and the beginning of wisdom. Half gods are worshipped in wine and flowers Real gods require blood." Whoa. What is this book about?

Then the language and dialect; wonderful. I lived in Louisiana for a couple of years, and the voices in the book remind me of the children I taught there. We had just had a lesson about how to ask for something, using the more proper, "May I?" vs. the literal "Can I?" The lesson was totally lost on my children, but one sweet boy had asked me a question that I thought would bring the point home, "Ms. Franklin, can I use you'ns pencil?" I answered that I was sure he could if he asked me "properly." He responded, "Aw, I'm sorry Ms. Franklin, can I use your'ns pencil." Proper=changing you'ns to your'ns. I learned a lot those two years.

I hope you enjoy this book. ( )
  BarbF410 | May 22, 2022 |
Awesome story, with great dialogue. ( )
  jdegagne | Apr 23, 2022 |
Do I like it? Do you? That’s the theme for today’s review? What is it, and why do we feel the way we do about it.

In a way it’s broadly similar to other romantic comedies of manners; I guess I should keep in mind that I’ve gone through anti-Austen phases too. (I.e., ephemeral slavish nonsense, etc.)

Also relevant: people never say what they really mean about books.

*two white men talking about the Odyssey*
“…. Yes, yes Charles; that was my favorite part too—the moment he gets back to Ithaca. Well, be well.”
*they part*
*later, at home*
“Honey, does Odysseus ever get back to Ithaca?”
“Oh of course Will; that’s the whole point of the book. Didn’t you read it for your club?”
“Most of it I guess…. It was so long…. I just assumed that he died at the end; I don’t know why….”

But still. We do encounter different problems with works in dialect, especially if the dialect isn’t Dickensian.

*two white girls talking about Their Eyes*
“It reminded me of why I love books!”
“Oh, me too! I love the classics.”
*they part*
*white girl 2 looks around, then throws the book into a bush*
Hitler: You’re misrepresenting my words! I’m not a racist! *throws the pencil*
White Girl 2: *gets hit by the pencil, keels over screaming*
Hitler: I’m angry against certain individuals who happen to be—happen to be—happen to be *dies*
White Girl 2: *sitting up* Oh, it’s not real; of course. *beat* The battery must have died.

“You must have a weirdness disorder.”

That I do. That I do. But my point is, we’re never honest.

On the one hand, it probably does have all the sociological detail of a Dickens, all the sugary appeal of an Austen.

Which is the perfect segue to my next point: I didn’t like it.

(Although she had this really great phrase I’ve forgotten, about fake love: ‘(good)less (love or marriage)’, but obviously that phrase has been damaged in transit, lol. I just remember it reminded me of one of Jack’s phrases from Till We Have Faces, A love can be nine-tenths hate and still be called love.

Guess I don’t remember what Black people tell me!)

Hahaha. Whoops!

I mean, I do read more white fiction than Black fiction, and I am attached to the best that the white writers do, and a lot of times when I read Black authors…. I’m like, No, but thanks for trying!

I liked Beloved. That’s probably my favorite Black novel. Angie Thomas’s famous book was ok, and this Malagasy (Madagascar) jazzy book was ok. I guess to put it in a racist way, Thomas veered on being too revolutionary (although it made me think) and the Malagasy man on being slavish (although I grit my teeth and got through it).

I don’t read much Black lit. And then there was the Jamaica Anansi folktales (edited by a white woman), which I hated for making me feel racist. The Anansi people were like, Banana monkeys; it was terrible—and then I was like, Racist! Racist! (You’re misrepresenting my words! I’m not a racist! *throws the pencil*).

So I hated those stories. And I’ve coughed up Alice Walker several times; I get close to liking it. I get close to liking it.

And then I reject it. One day I’ll like it.

I loved Beloved though. It was lyrical and sweet.

Emperor Napoleon: *kisses hand* High yellow!

Hitler will always win in the end. There is no escape. Lol. Well, it’ll be like John’s book—Big Baddie In Mordor can’t be beaten, but you just keep on trying until in the end, grace comes and the Big Baddie Power is destroyed. (That’s the Dickensian summary.)

What was I talking about—Their Eyes, that’s right.

I guess Janie is moderately likable, as a character, and her life revealed interesting things about the Black community. But I didn’t like Tea Cake. He just seemed like such a low-class Casanova with nothing to offer except giggles, you know.

Giggles, yes! And jazz! Smooth jazz! Seduction! Blackness! The heart of the Race, the Man of the People!

Hitler: And I didn’t like Tea Cake; he was a low-class seducer!
Angry Staffer: You can’t say that it’s so racist.
Hitler: But he’s not just Black! He’s poor and his culture’s different!
Angry Staffer: That’s racist we should love the poor and those whose culture is different.
Hitler: He just reminds me that white books are better. *throws the pencil* There are so many more of them! And they’re so much more familiar and more better! Black people just write a few weird lousy books! White people win at books and at life!
*the girl is crying outside*
Hitler’s Wife: Don’t worry we all love your book Helga.

The views and opinions of the participants in this documentary don’t correspond to the opinions of management, if that’s how public relations and legal say it’s gotta be. Copyright 2022 Goosecap Books. Unlimited Power.

…. N.B. Re: me vs Tea Cake, the grudge match—Now I am proof that one does not even have to date to become like one of those old fathers from the movies.

…. How nice it would be to look at a woman’s face and to have it be like it were your own face, and not have any to-do about it.

…. Of course, if I were one of Tea Cake’s (many) white imitators, I’d be a conformist, (and possibly rewarded as such, if my disguise held), but I’d still be a racist, and possibly a much worse racist.

*Peter Pan swords Tea Cake, and flies off laughing demonically*

I’d be like a child, or a Southerner. All true Southerners are sensualists, although like all practical sensualists, they lie about it.

I suppose you could argue that this doesn’t say anything about Tea Cake himself, but.

…. But, boy! is it strange—confusing!—for me to end on an unlettered person saying, ‘Action is better than gossip’, The End of the Book, and then an afterword (by the guy who narrated the Black Church documentary I watched) that’s very-lettered, hyper-abstract, hyper-defensive, very…. oppression-y, you know.

Hitler: (ends on Do Vat Sie Woll) I guess that’s what you get for pulling the Hitler crap; people take it out on Betty Friedan. They know I’m a racist sexist middle class humbug.
  goosecap | Apr 10, 2022 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Hurston, Zora Nealeautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Danticat, EdwidgePròlegautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Dee, RubyReaderautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Diaz, DavidAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Eley, HollyIntroduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Gates, Henry Louis, Jr.Epílegautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Pinkney, JerryIl·lustradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Smith, ZadieIntroduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Washington, Mary HelenPròlegautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Williams, Sherley AnneEpílegautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Williams, Shirley AnnePròlegautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat

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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)
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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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