Smart gateway to black lit
July 27, 2005 7:29 PM   Subscribe

Tangentially mentioned in this cool post from last September.
posted by mediareport at 7:31 PM on July 27, 2005

West Hell: another suburb of Hell, worse than the original

Hah! This was the nickname of my high school.

Great post mediareport. It's going in the bookmarks.
posted by carmen at 7:42 PM on July 27, 2005

Thanks mediareport. I too will be bookmarking this.
posted by ramix at 7:52 PM on July 27, 2005

Woohoo! Viva Zora!
posted by squirrel at 8:21 PM on July 27, 2005

As the civil rights revolution marched on, Hurston’s views began to go out of favor, and her career suffered because of them. She spent the last 10 years of her life working as a maid, substitute teacher, and librarian and died poor in 1960.
posted by Kwantsar at 8:49 PM on July 27, 2005

Very interesting take on Hurston in that link, Kwantsar. She's hardly the only person to notice "many blacks had been tricked into believing that anyone who was a liberal was a friend to the blacks," but her take on Brown v. BOE just seems sad. I've never been one to valorize writers, but you've at least given me something to think about.

Btw, I'd love to see you post that link to the aalbc forums.
posted by mediareport at 9:15 PM on July 27, 2005

but her take on Brown v. BOE

If accurately portrayed, I should add...

Just being careful in my ignorance.
posted by mediareport at 9:18 PM on July 27, 2005

Very nice post, thanks. I've always felt kind of wierd about Hurston, whose writing was so eclipsed by writers like Richard Wright, and then rescued in such a decisive fashion. I think her anthropological work was far better than her novels, expecially Their Eyes Were Watching God, which must have been taught in just about every class at my college, from Calculus on down...She was kind of a rough person to love, there was a huge fight for money and control over a musical that she and Langston Hughes wrote together. The accounts I've read, admittedly in a Hughes biography and other pro-Hughes venues, make her out to be quite mean.
posted by OmieWise at 6:04 AM on July 28, 2005

Ah, NOE!11! Not "expecially," but "especially." Drat you live preview for making me be lazy and not adequately check my work.
posted by OmieWise at 6:08 AM on July 28, 2005

In a wierd synchronisity, I went to S&F Online for an unrelated reason and discovered that their most recent issue (3, 2, 2005) is on Zora Neale Hurston. Haven't read it yet, but thought I'd share.

Also, here is the full text of Mules and Men.
posted by carmen at 8:08 AM on July 28, 2005

I love Zora. I read "Their Eyes Were Watching God" when I was quite young, and was amazed.

Here's a nice, fun and playfully designed site about her. The Spyglass of Anthropology section talks about her activities collecting Southern black folklore, and you can also find quite a bit about her contrubutions at the Florida Memory Project including an essay: Turpentine, and some reminiscences of Zora in the Florida Folklife Archives:
Not only was Zora signing on, but she would soon be paying a state visit to the state office. Unaccustomed as we were to receiving blacks of any description, Corse cautioned us that Zora had been lionized by New York literary circles and was consequently given to "putting on airs," including the smoking of cigarettes in the presence of white folks, and we would therefore have to make allowances. And so Zora came, and Zora smoked, and we made allowances...

Hurston’s production was sporadic, as was many writers’ who were on their own in the field, again myself included. There were times when those in the office did not hear from Zora for several weeks. Periodically, Dr. Corse would pop out of her office (she never merely emerged), look around the editorial room, and ask, "Anybody heard from Zora?" When we all looked blank, Corse would look at me and say, "Better write her a letter and jog her up!"

In response to my letters, we would receive a thick packet of fabulous folksongs, tales, and legends, possibly representing gleanings from days long gone by. We did not care how, where, or when Zora had come by them--each and every one was priceless, and we hastened to sprinkle them through the Florida Guide manuscript for flavoring. She also wrote a compendium of black folklore titled "Go Gator, and Muddy the Water," which began with the memorable definition, "Folklore is the boiled-down juice, or pot-likker, of human living."
posted by taz at 10:31 AM on July 28, 2005

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