Zora Neale Hurston 1891-1960 Duncan "Hurston"
I have the nerve to walk my own way, however hard, in my search for reality, rather than clink upon the rattling wagon of wishful illusions. March 1943 Zora Neale Hurston Duncan "Hurston"
Works by Zora Neale Hurston Selected Fiction • Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937) • Jonah's Gourd Vine (1934) • Moses, Man of the Mountain (1939) • Seraph on the Suwanee (1948) Selected Non-fiction • Dust Tracks on the Road(1942) • Ebony and Topaz: A Collectanea(1927) • Tell My Horse (1937) Duncan "Hurston"
I wrote Their Eyes Were Watching God in Haiti It was dammed up in me,-and I wrote it under internal pressure— -in seven weeks. I wish that I could write it again. In fact, I regret all my books. It is one of tragedies of life— --that one cannot have all the wisdom— -one is ever to possess, in the beginning. Perhaps it is just as well to be rash and foolish for a while. If writers, were too wise, perhaps no books would be written at all. Anyway, the force from somewhere in space-- Duncan "Hurston"
--which commands you to write in the first place---gives you no choice. You take up the pen when you are told,--and write what is commanded.There is no agony like bearing an untold story---inside of you. You have all heard of the Spartan youth with the fox under his cloak? -Zora Neale Hurston (1942) I wrote Their Eyes Were Watching God in Haiticont’d Duncan "Hurston"
Zora: Ethnographer Zora collecting folk songs: 1935 Duncan "Hurston"
intended to construct new art forms based on the Afro-American cultural tradition she was helping to recover • shared with Hughes her idea of an authentic African-American theatre • analyzed the complexity and inventiveness of Negro expression as she knew it • insisted that the depiction of the 'Negro world' was appropriate for literary treatment Hurston’s Ethnography Duncan "Hurston"
First incorporated Black Town in America Founded in 1886 Map of Eatonville Florida Duncan "Hurston"
Wrapped in RainbowsValerie Boyd (2003) • Patroness, “godmother,” Charlotte Mason, 1927 • Considered a Harlem Renaissance writer, Hurston wrote little during the period • Steeped in “oral tradition,” criticized for telling tales, rather than writing them down • Married medical student Herbert Sheen, 1927; divorced 1931 • Chose to “defect from the demands of marriage and motherhood” • Hurston persisted full-time writing career although other black women could not – no money Duncan "Hurston"
Mule Bone: Hurston’s and Hughes’ Drama Portrayal of black folk language in Mule Bone an attempt to establish “some new categories of perception; new ways of seeing a culture which had been caricatured by the white minstrel tradition” Duncan "Hurston"
A Life in LettersCarla Kaplan (2003) To Charlotte Mason:(1932) • “Good Friday found me absolutely penniless. I had not the first stamp.” • “Langston (Hughes) is here at the Grampion Hotel” • “Have not heard from Alain (Locke) since I sent the announcement. Hope he is not angry about anything.” To James Weldon Johnson: (1934) • “I think there is enough misinformation out about the Negroes without my adding a thing.” • “I have tried to present a Negro, a preacher who is neither funny nor an imitation Puritan . . . In pants.” Duncan "Hurston"
Samples of Hurston’s Glossary of Harlem Slang Knock yourself out: have a good time Lightly, slightly, and politely: doing things perfectly Little sister: measures of hotness Liver-lip: pendulous, thick purple lips Made hair: hair that has been straightened Mammy: a term of insult Miss Anne: a white woman Mister Charlie: a white man Monkey chaser: a West Indian Mug Man: a small time thug My people!: sad and satiric expression in the Negro language Naps: kinky hair Nearer my God to Thee: good hair Nothing to the bear but his curly hair: I call your bluff Now you cookin' with gas: now you’re talking Ofay: white person Old cuffee: Negro Palmer House: walking flat-footed Pancake: a humble type of Negro Duncan "Hurston"
Older black writers criticized Hurston for the crudeness and bawdiness of her tales • e.g DuBois • Younger generation criticized her propensity to gloss over the injustices that Blacks suffered • e.g Richard Wright called Their Eyes, “counter-revolutionary.” • Hurston’s “home-spun vernacular and street-corner cosmology is as valuable as the grammar and philosophy of white, Western culture” • Judith Wilson Value of Hurston’s Work as Harlem Renaissance Writer Duncan "Hurston"
'Court Order Can’t Make the Races Mix'by Zora Neale Hurston Letter to the Editor, Orlando Sentinel, August, 1955 I was not going to part my lips concerning the U.S. Supreme Court decision on ending segregation in public schools of the South . . . I have no sympathy nor respect for the "Tragedy of color" school of thought . . . Ethical and cultural desegregation. . . contradiction in terms to scream race pride and equality while at the same time spurning Negro teachers and self-association. Hurston’s Politics'Court Order Can’t Make the Races Mix'by Zora Neale Hurston Duncan "Hurston"
Ethnography • a branch of anthropology concerned with the description of ethnic groups • Negro Arts Movement • Diaspora • a branch of anthropology concerned with the description of ethnic groups Some useful Terms Duncan "Hurston"