A black woman, granddaughter of a slave, finds her voice in 1930's Florida. Moving American classic focuses on family dynamics.
A masterpiece. Deserves a place on literary shelves with the likes of Steinbeck and Pushkin.
Big issues seen through the littlest of eyes, Janie tells you a tale that will whip you around until you feel dizzy. THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD is not one of my favourites, but I can see why it is a very important book. It provokes emotions, without question, and those emotions are often tied to big ideas, thinking beyond her story while staying planted firmly within the intricacies of the relationships in Janie's life. While she recounts the steps she's made through life, Janie is also tackling the grand scale. It is a feminist text, but not in the overt way that makes some people cringe (cough, chauvinist misogynists, cough). Her courage and the strength of her decisions are important in a time that cannot fathom why she dare have the conviction to take action when she's just so darn pretty. But, to Janie, it's not what's on her face but in her head that matters. She deals with what life hands her and there is a spiritual element that courses through her, egging her on to be who she wants to be. While some parts of the book dragged, others chugged along mighty strong. And while I didn't particularly like what I felt was a rushed resolution in order to conclude the novel, I can understand that it may have been a stylistic choice reflecting the ebb and flow of life itself. As we all well know, sometimes a week can feel like years and then a year can feel like days. Sometimes, we are waiting for the second hand to tick over; other times, we are begging for another hour in the day. I can understand why this is the favourite novel of one of my friends. It may not be mine, but I don't, for a second, regret reading it. For anyone with the patience to walk a mile in someone else's shoes, I recommend THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD.
A love story about a woman who dares to be unabashedly herself. Against all odds, she remains a strong feminist way before her time yet is able to put her own life on the line for love. She is not swayed by her first rich husband who "big-bellies 'round and worships the things of his hands." She settles for nothing less then what her heart demands. Glorious storytelling in a folklore-laden culture of the deep south. MKO
A book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes were Watching God was published in 1937. Written in the African American dialect of the deep south it recounts the spiritual journey of Janie Mae Crawford, the granddaughter of a former slave, to find a place for herself in the world. Louise Gates Jr. writes that the book is about "the project of finding a voice, with language as an instrument of injury and salvation, of selfhood and empowerment.” It is a strongly feminist voice.
I know I am supposed to like this book, but I did not. It was boring and depressing.
This was hard for me to read at first, but once it got to the good part, I couldn't stop. This story blew me away.
Pretty amazing book, but hard to read sometimes. I found I got used to it when I would read for a longer period of time. It's very interesting, about something I have never really read about before - the black community in the early 30s in first Eatonville, then the Everglades in Florida. I definitely recommend it to anyone interested in some U.S. history and looking for a strong female lead.
A wonderful, powerful story. It is one of only a few books that I've ever read and wanted to read again right away. The foreword and afterword provide important background and context, especially if you don't know about Hurston.
How to rate this book? On the basis of the writing quality alone, it should rate five stars. Just read the first page and you will be swept away by Hurston's magnificent prose:
"The sun was gone but he had left his footprints in the sky. It was the time for sitting on porches beside the road. It was the time to hear things and talk. These sitters had been tongueless, earless, eyeless conveniences all day long. Mules and other brutes had occupied their skins. But now, the sun and bossman were gone, so the skins felt powerful and human. They became lords of sounds and lesser things. They passed nations through their mouths. They sat in judgment."
Beyond this, Hurston is able to write with two entirely different voices and glide seamlessly from one to the other, even within a single phrase. A supremely gifted writer, sure of her subject.
But it's with her other voice that I encountered some difficulty; not that her use of the vernacular of the black, deep south characters was less than authentic. Rather that at times she became too enraptured with their banality and nonsense, their tendency to attack and belittle to bolster their own self-esteem. The tiresome, trivial episode of Matt Bonner's yellow mule is a case in point; it just goes on and on for the better part of a chapter. I'm reminded of a comment that someone made about Mark Twain, that he became so much in love with his character, Tom Sawyer that he allowed his character to get away with far too much. Self-discipline is a necessary part of the creative process. I felt that permitting her characters to misbehave as she did was a form of self-indulgence on Hurston's part. I applaud her authenticity and yet I felt that she could have made her point equally well in far fewer words. Hence, four stars rather than five. Perhaps I'm showing some prejudice -- or just being picky.
Janie is just a girl looking for the perfect love. And she finds it after 20 years and two husbands have gone by. Now she can live the life she wants, the one that brings her the most joy.
I thought this book was very interesting, showing how life was back in the early generations after slavery ended, and what the black community was like. Janie's journey was well crafted, with plenty of stylistic elements to be found among the novel. The dialog was very authentic-feeling, though it did make the book much harder to read. Sad ending to the story but it leaves off with a note of hope for the future. All the characters played a part, some more than others, but they swirled around Janie, filling her life with feeling and emotions that were expressed in this book. Good read overall, and a good class read choice.
Excellent book about the lives of African-Americans in early 20th-century Florida. Hurston's use of dialect and descriptive style really took me into that world of Junie and Tea Cake (rarely does a book transport me in such a way). Highly recommended!
As a white male (I'm checking my privilege), I don't have anything valuable to say about this except that it's a landmark in both African-American fiction and in feminist (or proto-feminist) literature. Foreword by Edwidge Danticat and afterword by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Simple and poetic, “Their Eyes Were Watching God” is a beautifully written love story.
This 1937 black, feminist classic deserves to be read. It tells the story of a young woman finding her voice through three marriages and as part of the black community. Unfortunately, Hurston became very conservative later in her life.
The slang is challenging to read at first, but it gets easier the more you read. It is refreshing to read how a black woman depicts another black woman's thoughts and ideas and life at this time in history...who better to know. Amazing to realize this book was written in 7 weeks.
I loved this book. It was groundbreaking for its time but the story still holds up in our time.The search for self and love is universal.
The language was a bit tough at first but once I got into it I found it lyrical. Hurston has such a way with words and description and she gives the skill to her characters.There is so much sorrow in their lives yet they make the everyday events into a tale of colour and vibrancy. I wanted to sit on the stoop and listen to them talk all day.
There is tragedy, poverty,racism (even among themselves) and death all mixed in with the indomitable will of one woman to do more than survive.
It is a small book but it is many layered and many should read it. Hurry up though the library only has one copy .
The story follows the life of Janie Crawford, and how the impulsive decisions she makes influence the course of her life. Her beauty and light skin attract the interest of men, but also ignites their jealousy. Her looks are both an asset and a curse. Makes the reader question how physical appearance matters in society.
Great book. Book was written in 1930's Black dialect and I found it difficult at times to understand what they were saying or doing. I recently listened to it on audio and it made more sense to me.