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Zora Neale Hurston, Haiti, and Their Eyes Were Watching God

La Vinia Delois Jennings

Publication Year: 2013

Zora Neale Hurston wrote her most famous work, the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, while in Haiti on a trip funded by a Guggenheim Fellowship to research the region’s transatlantic folk and religious culture for her study Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica. The essays in Zora Neale Hurston, Haiti and Their Eyes Were Watching God persuasively demonstrate that Hurston’s study of Haitian Voudoun informed the characterization, plotting, symbolism and theme of her novel.

Published by: Northwestern University Press

Cover

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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

On the seventy-fifth anniversary of the publication of Hurston’s second novel, I extend my deepest gratitude to the individuals who assisted in the production of Zora Neale Hurston, Haiti, and “Their Eyes Were Watching God” in order to enlarge critical insights into an underinvestigated topic that has major importance to twentieth-century American literature and life. ...

Variations in Spelling

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pp. xi-xii

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Introduction: Zora Neale Hurston, Seven Weeks in Haiti, and Their Eyes Were Watching God

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pp. 3-28

Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)—the story of Janie Mae Crawford, an African American woman who finds an independent voice and a conscious selfhood during her quest for a fulfilling love—quickly became for a latter-twentieth-century readership, which was largely female and in the midst of a burgeoning women’s movement, ...

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1 - Remembering the Sacred Tree: Black Women, Nature, and Voodoo in Zora Neale Hurston’s Tell My Horse and Their Eyes Were Watching God

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pp. 29-48

Artist and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston wrote Their Eyes Were Watching God, her classic novel of a black woman’s quest for selfhood, while she was in the Caribbean in 1936–37 collecting the ethnographic materials that she would later publish as Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica. ...

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2 - The Myth and Ritual of Ezili Freda in Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God

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pp. 49-68

The subtext of this paper asks the difficult question of how best to treat the literary output of an American author like Zora Neale Hurston who consciously employed ethnography and folklore in her work. Literary criticism that is insensitive to folklore research will not succeed, because it tends to prioritize Hurston’s novels, short stories, and dramatic work ...

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3 - Vodou Imagery, African American Tradition, and Cultural Transformation in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God

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pp. 69-94

Zora Neale Hurston wrote Their Eyes Were Watching God in 1937 while in Haiti collecting folklore on Vodou.1 A year later, she published Tell My Horse, which documents the findings from that expedition. While the history of these publications suggests that, for Hurston, folklore and fiction converge in Haiti, ...

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4 - “Black Cat Bone and Snake Wisdom”: New Orleanian Hoodoo, Haitian Voodoo, and Rereading Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God

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pp. 95-116

When twenty-five-year-old Zora Neale Hurston “headed her toenails” to New Orleans in 1928, she began the mystical journey that would take her from New Orleans to the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Haiti—a journey that would deeply influence her fiction (Hurston, Mules and Men, 183). ...

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5 - “Papa Legba, Ouvrier Barriere Por Moi Passer”: Esu in Their Eyes and Zora Neale Hurston’s Diasporic Modernism

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pp. 117-152

Their Eyes Were Watching God is a novel of transitions. At one crucial moment, as Joe Starks’s funeral ends, Hurston marks the transition and images the “Little Lord of the Crossroads . . . leaving Orange County as he had come—with the outstretched hand of power” (Their Eyes, 246). ...

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6 - “Come and Gaze on a Mystery”: Oya as Rain-Bringing “I” of Zora Neale Hurston’s Atlantic Storm Walkings

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pp. 153-174

“What is the truth?” Zora Neale Hurston was asked while undertaking her service to the spirits of Haitian Voudoun that would find publication in 1938 as Tell My Horse. The answer she received—the ritually unveiled vagina of the Mambo—gave unforgettably authoritative witness: “There is no mystery beyond the mysterious source of life” (Tell My Horse, 376). ...

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7 - “Legba in the House”: African Cosmology in Their Eyes Were Watching God

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pp. 175-190

African spirituality in Euro-American discourse is often relegated to the realm of superstition, fetishism, and primitivism in spite of its worldwide and diasporic manifestations in countries such as the United States, Haiti, Jamaica, Brazil, and Cuba. The above epigraph from Zora Neale Hurston’s Mules and Men (1935) ...

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8 - Voodoo and the Black Vernacular as Weapons of Resistance: Liberation Strategies in Their Eyes Were Watching God

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pp. 191-214

Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), hereafter referred to as Their Eyes, reflects the significance of Voodoo and the black vernacular as covert means of resistance against gender, race, and class oppression. The second novel of Zora Neale Hurston subtly depicts Voodoo and other West and Central African traditional survivals in the New World ...

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9 - “All Those Signs of Possession”: Love and Death in Their Eyes Were Watching God

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pp. 215-236

As Zora Neale Hurston’s biographer, Robert Hemenway, plainly states, “Their Eyes Were Watching God is a love story” (Zora Neale Hurston, 231). Perhaps more accurately, Hurston’s most frequently read and most deeply loved novel is a quest-for-love story. But what kind of love? Sexual love? Platonic love? Communal love? Self love? ...

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10 - Zora Neale Hurston’s Vodun-Christianity Juxtaposition: Theological Pluralism in Their Eyes Were Watching God

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pp. 237-256

Zora Neale Hurston’s subscription of West African Vodun in Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937) falls within an African American literary practice traceable from Charles Chesnutt’s conjure tales published at the turn of the twentieth century to Toni Morrison’s ninth novel, A Mercy, published in the first decade of the twenty-first century. ...

Contributors

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pp. 257-260

Index

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pp. 261-276


E-ISBN-13: 9780810166585
E-ISBN-10: 0810166585
Print-ISBN-13: 9780810129085
Print-ISBN-10: 0810129086

Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 2 b&w
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: 1
Volume Title: 1