Some of Zora's Major Works
With haunting sympathy and piercing immediacy, Their Eyes Were Watching God tells the story of Janie Crawford's evolving selfhood through three marriages. Light-skinned, long-haired, dreamy as a child, Janie grows up expecting better treatment than she gets until she meets Tea Cake, a younger man who engages her heart and spirit in equal measure and gives her the chance to enjoy life without being a man's mule or adornment. Though Jaine's story does not end happily, it does draw to a satisfying conclusion. Janie is one black woman who doesn't have to live lost in sorrow, bitterness, fear, or foolish romantic dreams, instead Janie proclaims that she has done "two things everbody's got tuh do fuh theyselves. They got tuh go tuh God, and they got tuh find out about livin' fuh theyselves."
These hilarious, bittersweet, often saucy folk-tales -- some of which date back to the Civil War -- provide a fascinating, verdant slice of African-American life in the rural South at the turn of the twentieth century. Arranged according to subject -- from God Tales, Preacher Tales, and Devil Tales to Heaven Tales, White-Folk Tales, and Mistaken Identity Tales -- they reveal attitudes about slavery, faith, race relations, family, and romance that have been passed on for generations. They capture the heart and soul of the vital, independent, and creative community that so inspired Zora Neale Hurston.
Mule Bone is the only collaboration between Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes, two stars of the Harlem Renaissance, and it holds an unparalleled place in the annals of African-American theater. Set in Eatonville, Florida--Hurston's hometown and the inspiration for much of her fiction--this energetic and often ludicrous play centers on Jim and Dave, a two-man song-and-dance team, and Daisy, the woman who comes between them. Overcome by jealousy, Jim hits Dave with a mule bone and hilarity follows chaos as the town splits into two factions: the Methodists, who want to pardon Jim; and the Baptists, who wish to banish him for his crime.
As a first-hand account of the weird mysteries and horrors of voodoo, Tell My Horse is an invaluable resource and fascinating guide. Based on Zora Neale Hurston's personal experiences in Haiti and Jamaica, where she participated as an innovator rather than just an observer of voodoo practices during her visits in the 1930s. This travelogue into a dark world paints a vividly authentic picture of ceremonies and customs and superstitions of great cultural interest.
In this 1939 novel based on the familiar story of the Exodus, Zora Neale Hurston blends the Moses of the Old Testament with the Moses of black folklore and song to create a compelling allegory of power, redemption, and faith. Narrated in a mixture of biblical rhetoric, black dialect, and colloquial English, Hurston traces Moses' life from the day he Is launched into the Nile river in a reed basket, to his development as a great magician, to his transformation into the heroic rebel leader, the Great Emancipator. From his dramatic confrontations with Pharaoh to his fragile negotiations with the wary Hebrews, this very human story is told with great humor, passion, and psychological insight--the hallmarks of Hurston as a writer and champion of black culture.
This novel of turn-of-the-century white "Florida Crackers" marks a daring departure for the author famous for her complex accounts of black culture and heritage. Full of insights into the nature of love, attraction, faith, and loyalty, Seraph on the Suwanee is the compelling story of two people at once deeply in love and deeply at odds. The heroine, young Arvay Henson, is convinced she will never find true love and happiness, and defends herself from unwanted suitors by throwing hysterical fits and professing religious fervor. Arvay meets her match, however, in handsome Jim Meserve, a bright, enterprising young man who knows that Arvay is the woman for him, and refuses to allow her to convince him otherwise. With the same passion and understanding that have made Their Eyes Were Watching God a classic, Hurston explores the evolution of a marriage full of love but very little communication and the desires of a young woman in search of herself and her place in the world.
Mules and Men is the first great collection of black America's folklore. 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.