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Mules and Men (1935)

de Zora Neale Hurston

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Abrahams Mules and Men is the first great collection of black America's folk world. In the 1930's, Zora Neale Hurston returned to her "native village" of Eatonville, Florida to record the oral histories, sermons and songs, dating back to the time of slavery, which she remembered hearing as a child. In her quest, she found herself and her history throughout these highly metaphorical folk-tales, "big old lies," and the lyrical language of song. With this collection, Zora Neale Hurston has come to reveal'and preserve'a beautiful and important part of American culture. Zora Neale Hurston (1901-1960) was a novelist, folklorist, anthropologist and playwright whose fictional and factual accounts of black heritage are unparalleled. She is also the author of Tell My Horse, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Dust Tracks on a Road, and Mule Bone. Ruby Dee, a member of the Theatre Hall of Fame, starred on Broadway in the original productions of A Raisin in the Sun and Purlie Victorious, and was featured in Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing. She is also an award-winning author and the producer of numerous television dramas.… (més)
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This book is an invaluable gift to the Black Diaspora, most especially those from North America.
Bless her, what a treasure and gift was Zora Neale Hurston ( )
  LoisSusan | Dec 10, 2020 |
dust jacket
  Sheila01 | Jul 27, 2019 |
Zora Neale Hurston had a great interest in the African American storytelling and folklore traditions which were a prominent part of her childhood in Eatonville, Florida as well as across the entire American South. At a time in history when the lives of African Americans weren't given much regard at all, Hurston (with assistance from a Charlotte Osgood Mason - a patron of many Harlem Renaissance authors) spent 1928-1932 visiting her hometown and the surrounding cities, as well as New Orleans in Louisiana. She spoke with all sorts of people, and recorded the stories they told. These stories were collected into the book MULES AND MEN. There are 70 stories from her travels in Florida, and 30 stories in New Orleans. The later section includes a variety of Voodoo rituals and her experiences within the Voodoo ("hoodoo") community there. If you have an interest in folklore and legend, especially in the African American/slavery traditions, then you should really spend time with MULES AND MEN. ( )
  BooksForYears | Feb 27, 2017 |
Found this tiresome. The book was basically folk tales, which were enjoyable but I would never read a book of folk tales. I thought it was a memoir. A memoir of her gathering/telling folk tales??? ( )
  mahallett | Dec 23, 2015 |
(April 2013) Reread this as part of the collection Folklore, Memoirs and Other Writing, reposting review and quotes here. All page numbers are from that version.

In her books that are mostly anthropology (Mules and Men, Tell My Horse) Hurston is always a participant-observer, and she never fails to be clear/blunt about her point of view, whether that's on the role and treatment of women, the poor, or the politicians. She takes a hard look at race, both in the US and in other countries, and doesn't dance around with her opinions. And every now and then she'll use a turn of phrase that really makes me appreciate her writing ability. (Note of personal bias: my mother is so southern that sometimes I can't understand her for her accent - and my own accent is with me at times. So sometimes Hurston's expressions sound like something my family would say, and I can't help but automatically enjoy that. Your mileage may vary.)

Orig. pub. 1935, traveling FL and gathering folklore, hoodoo lore in New Orleans. (Advised to avoid the hoodoo sections: those who are upset by deaths of chickens and black cats. And yes, the cat part was hard for me, I had a black cat as a pet.)

Quotes and ponderings:

Mules and Men, p 66-7 - sample of the dialect and language Hurston transcribes in most of the stories - here a local man is flirting with Hurston, whom he's just met:" "...Some of 'em talkin' 'bout marryin' you and dey wouldn't know whut to do wid you if they had you. Now, dat's a fack."

"You reckon?"

"Ah know dey wouldn't. Dey'd 'spect you tuh git out de bed and fix dem some breakfus' and a bucket. Dat's 'cause dey don't know no better. Dey's thin-brainded. Now me, Ah wouldn't let you fix me no breakfus'. Ah git up and fix mah own and den, whut make it so cool, Ah'd fix you some and set it on de back of de cook-stove so you could git it when you wake up. Dese mens don't even know how to talk to nobody lak you. If you wuz tuh ast dese niggers somethin' dey'd answer you 'yeah' and 'naw.' Now, if you wuz some ole gator-black 'oman dey'd be tellin' you jus' right. But dat ain't de way tuh talk tuh nobody lak you. Now you ast me somethin' and see how Ah'll answer yuh."

"Mr. Pitts, are you havin' a good time?"

(In a prim falsetto) "Yes, Ma'am. See, dat's de way tuh talk to you."

I laughed and the crowd laughed and Pitts laughed. Very successful woofing."(As someone who is not a morning person, a guy offering me that breakfast scenario? I'd be smiling at him too.)

Woofing is defined as (p. 229): "aimless talking. A man half seriously flirts with a girl, half seriously threatens to fight or brags of his prowess in love, battle or financial matters. The term comes from the purposeless of barking dogs at night."

Mules and Men, p 119-120, from a story about God and creation:"...Way after while de flowers said, "Wese put heah to keep de world comp'ny but wese lonesome ourselves."

So God said, "A world is somethin' ain't never finished. Soon's you make one thing you got to make somethin' else to go wid it. Gimme dem li'l tee-ninchy shears."

So he went 'round clippin' li'l pieces offa everything - de sky, de trees, de flowers, de earth, de varmits and every one of dem li'l clippin's flew off. When folks seen all them li'l scraps fallin' from God's scissors and flutterin' they called 'em flutter-bys. But you know how it is wid de brother in black. He got a big mouf and a stambling tongue. So he got it all mixed up and said "butter-fly" and folks been calling 'em dat ever since. Dat's how come we got butterflies of every color and kind and dat's why dey hangs 'round de flowers. Dey wuz made to keep de flowers company."

Mules and Men, p 183, in New Orleans Hurston met Luke Turner, who said he was Marie Laveau's nephew. Turner on Leveau:"She was very pretty, one of the Creole Quadroons and many people said she would never be a hoodoo doctor like her mama and her grandma before her. She liked to go to the balls very much where all the young men fell in love with her. But Alexander, the great two-headed doctor felt the power in her and so he tell her she must come to study with him. Marie, she rather dance and make love, but one day a rattlesnake came to her in her bedroom and spoke to her. So she went to Alexander and studied. But soon she could teach her teacher and the snake stayed with her always.

...Now, some white people say she hold hoodoo dance on Congo Square every week. But Marie Leveau never hold no hoodoo dance. That was a pleasure dance. They beat the drum with the shin bone of a donkey and everybody dance like they do in Hayti. Hoodoo is private. She give the dance the first Friday night in each month and they have crab gumbo and rice to eat and the people dance. The white people come look on, and think they see all, when they only see a dance."

Mules and Men, p. 222 - telling about working with Kitty Brown "a well known hoodoo doctor of New Orleans, and a Catholic.":"...It was in October 1928, when I was a pupil of hers, that I shared in a hoodoo dance. This was not a pleasure dance, but ceremonial. In another generation African dances were held in Congo Square, now Beauregard Square. Those were held for social purposes and were of the same type as the fire dances and jumping dances present in the Bahamas. But the hoodoo dance is done for a specific purpose. It is always the case of death-to-the-enemy that calls forth a dance. They are very rare even in New Orleans now, even within the most inner circle, and no layman ever participates, nor has ever been allowed to witness such a ceremony." ( )
  bookishbat | Sep 25, 2013 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Hurston, Zora Nealeautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Boaz, FranzIntroduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Covarrubias, MiguelIl·lustradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Diaz, DavidAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Turner, Darwin T.Introduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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Wikipedia en anglès (1)

Abrahams Mules and Men is the first great collection of black America's folk world. In the 1930's, Zora Neale Hurston returned to her "native village" of Eatonville, Florida to record the oral histories, sermons and songs, dating back to the time of slavery, which she remembered hearing as a child. In her quest, she found herself and her history throughout these highly metaphorical folk-tales, "big old lies," and the lyrical language of song. With this collection, Zora Neale Hurston has come to reveal'and preserve'a beautiful and important part of American culture. Zora Neale Hurston (1901-1960) was a novelist, folklorist, anthropologist and playwright whose fictional and factual accounts of black heritage are unparalleled. She is also the author of Tell My Horse, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Dust Tracks on a Road, and Mule Bone. Ruby Dee, a member of the Theatre Hall of Fame, starred on Broadway in the original productions of A Raisin in the Sun and Purlie Victorious, and was featured in Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing. She is also an award-winning author and the producer of numerous television dramas.

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