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Their Eyes Were Watching God

3.85  ·  Rating Details  ·  173,860 Ratings  ·  7,547 Reviews
When Janie, at sixteen, is caught kissing shiftless Johnny Taylor, her grandmother swiftly marries her off to an old man with sixty acres. Janie endures two stifling marriages before meeting the man of her dreams, who offers not diamonds, but a packet of flowering seeds ...

'For me, THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD is one of the very greatest American novels of the 20th century
Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 30th 2006 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics (first published 1937)
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Maureen Laney Native Son by Richard Wright might be a good option. It takes place in Chicago, not the south, but is the same general time period. And a great novel…moreNative Son by Richard Wright might be a good option. It takes place in Chicago, not the south, but is the same general time period. And a great novel regardless of how close it parallels this one!(less)
Beth This is a line in a dramatic scene in the story, but it also speaks to the way most of the characters didn't understand that the main character had…moreThis is a line in a dramatic scene in the story, but it also speaks to the way most of the characters didn't understand that the main character had claimed her place in the world as a young woman and her choices were made from a deeply spiritual place (although she wouldn't have said it that way.)(less)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Jan 25, 2016 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: southern
”Dey gointuh make ‘miration ‘cause mah love didn’t work lak they love, if dey ever had any. Then you must tell ‘em dat love ain’t somethin’ lak uh grindstone dat’s de same thing everywhere and do de same thing tuh everything it touch. Love is lak de sea. It’s uh movin’ thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from de shore it meets, and it’s different with every shore.”

Janie Crawford knows about love. She knows how life is with it and she knows how life is without it. She had three marriages
Here is a woman who led a wretched life for years, doomed to stagnate in the drab depths of oblivion even after her death which had gone under the radar and generated no nostalgia-soaked, emotional obituaries. She lay in an unmarked grave in the Garden of Heavenly Rest, Florida, treated by her own contemporaries like an outcast because of a difference in perspectives, to be resuscitated and acknowledged as one of the foremost powerful voices that ever reverberated across the African-American lit ...more
AJ Griffin
Jul 03, 2007 AJ Griffin rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people interested in historical ebonics, I suppose
Another "I don't remember it very well, but I know I liked it" story. Here's what I do recall:

A) The main character was a woman, and she had something like 3 lovers throughout the book. Saucy.
B) One of these dudes was named either Teabag, Cornbread, Teabread, or Breadbag. Or something.
C) There was some issue with the weather towards the end.
D) Zora Neal Hurston got arrested for fucking a kid, or something (I guess that wasn't really in the book, but whatever).

Somehow I managed to get through th
Dec 23, 2014 Tara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recently reread this book, in February 2011 and wrote a new review. It's a lengthy review, but I learned a lot on the second reading, hence the length. I posted that review on my blog, so here's the link: http://left-handedright-brained.blogs....

***I decided to remove the original review I posted for this book due to the new review I wrote in February 2011. The original review I posted for this book is no longer how I feel about the book and therefore wanted to move forward with the 2011 revi
Oct 15, 2012 Amanda rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kick-ass, blog
Another book that I recently re-read that stands up well to a second reading. Hurston's novel, unlike many classics, is as impressive and as relevant today as it was when written.

Hurston's story of Janie, a fair-skinned black woman caught in the time period between the end of slavery and the civil rights movement, is the first woman in her family who has the opportunity to be defined as something other than property. Despite this, Janie is unable achieve self-actualization or seek out the indepe
Melissa Rudder
Jun 13, 2008 Melissa Rudder rated it really liked it
When I teach Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, I tell my students the Alice Walker headstone story and teach the book as a Black Feminist novel that is far, far ahead of its time. I noticed this year that my introduction made my students expect the protagonist, Janie, to jump from the novel's pages as a woman warrior, take no shit from anyone, and--I don't know--burn her bra. But the real beauty of Hurston's novel is that her heroine is a real character living in a real world--a ...more
Aug 01, 2015 Chloe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Poets, Lovers and Screenwriters
Recommended to Chloe by: Sally
You know those books that sit on your shelf and mock you for being too hesitant to pick them up? We all have them. They sit there, perched on the edge of the shelf like hooligans on a stoop tossing out insults to passersby and just daring them to pick them up and give 'em a spin. For me, Their Eyes Were Watching God was the ringleader of my abusive books. It would yell vicious things at me as I sat near the shelf and once, in collusion with my long-time archenemy gravity, contrived to whap me up ...more
Jan 13, 2014 Dolors rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Unheard voices which have much to say
Recommended to Dolors by: Steve Sckenda
Shelves: read-in-2014
“To meet as far this morning
From the world as agreeing
With it, you and I
Are suddenly what the trees try

To tell us we are:
That their merely being there
Means something; that soon
We may touch, love, explain.”

Some Trees by John Ashberry.

Janie returns to Eatonville with the sunbeams glowing on her shoulders giving her the appearance of a luminescent and almost unearthly goddess whose bare feet voluptuously caress the dusty road. Women on porches sing a harmonious chorus of gossip and covet
Their Eyes Were Watching God: Zora Neale Hurston's Novel of an Independent Woman

"Dat's all right, Pheoby, tell 'em. Dey gointuh make 'miration 'cause mah love didn't work lak they love, if dey ever had any. Then you must tell 'em dat love ain't somethin' lak uh grindstone dat's de same thing everywhere and do de same thing tuh everything it touch. Love is lak de sea. It's uh movin' thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from de shore it meets, and it's different with every shore."

"Lawd!" P
Feb 18, 2010 Alisa rated it did not like it
I hate, hate hated this book, and I really can't explain WHY very well, but I'll try.

It was well written, the metaphors, etc were good (I read it for an English class so I know ALL about the metaphors), the characters were well rounded, it IS a really fine example of Hurston's work.

What I hated was the forward in the particular version I read. It was about a conference of women who loved the book or something, and one lady just went on and on how Janie is a strong female character, and somethin
Diane S ☔
Aug 12, 2014 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it
When I was in school we were given a choice to read Soul on Ice, Johnny got his gun or this book. I choose Johnny, a book that haunts me to this day. Huston's book always remained in the back of my mind, though I can't help but wonder if I would have appreciated it back then as much as I did now.

I did find the dialect difficult at times, but I found if I read it out loud it made more sense. Of course my husband thought I was demented, but he often does. I cannot imagine being married as young as
She had been getting ready for her great journey to the horizons in search of people; it was important to all the world that she should find them and they find her. But she had been whipped like a cur dog, and run off down a back road after things.
What do you live for? Love? Security? Money? Hope? There's something to said for any of them in every combination with one another, the melding usually a three of the four legs of a stool that is never quite stable. A great deal of literature is
Jul 06, 2011 ·Karen· rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh dear, I was just about to start my review by saying how I enjoyed the richness of the language in this novel until my GR friend Michele provided me with this quote from the Encyclopedia of African American Women:
--White reviewers, often ignorant of black culture, praised the richness of her language but misunderstood her work and characterized it as simple and unpretentious.
Does that condemn me as a white person who is ignorant of black culture? Well probably yes, it does, because surely the
Sep 05, 2014 Paul rated it it was amazing
Shelves: african-american
This is a wonderful novel and I would recommend it. The speech is not easy to follow initially, but is easy to get the hang of if you persist and is well worth the effort.
The story of the life and loves of Janie Crawford; told in her own words and in a strong clear voice. It has had a mixed history in terms of reviews. Ralph Ellison criticised its “calculated burlesque” and others regarded it as not being serious fiction. Then there was the debate about racial uplift and improving image; an appr
Beth F.
Except for the scene where Tea Cake combs Janie’s hair and is actually scratching out all her dandruff (ew), I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

I loved the writing style. I’m not terribly keen on poetry, per se, but Hurston’s prose felt poetic and many of the sentences beat out a steady rhythm I could almost hear, even reading silently to myself. The dialogue between the characters was it’s stark opposite, using a phonetic dialect commonly used by black people living in the south. Switching back an
Feb 01, 2012 B0nnie rated it really liked it
Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board.
For some they come in with the tide.
For others they sail forever on the horizon,
Never out of sight,
Never landing
until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation,
His dreams mocked to death by Time.
That is the life of men.

So begins Their Eyes Were Watching God. It’s not actually written in verse - but it hardly seems to be prose either. The language is almost too lush and rich in metaphors to be merely a novel:

Death, that strange being
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When I first heard that we were going to read this book, I wasn't sure what to think since it was written with a Southern dialect. As I read, though, my feelings for it changed. This books shows the growing up and life of Janie Crawford through her describing to her friend Phoebe years after it happened. This gave much more insight and you knew how she was feeling. In the beginning of the book she was hopeful and had many dreams to being happy and in love. Over the years though, her dreams
K.D. Absolutely
Feb 16, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: Time 100, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Shelves: 1001-core
Time 100 Greatest Novels. Newsweek’s Top 100 Books: The Metalist. 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010). Guardian’s 1000 Novels Everyone Must Read: The Definitive List.

But what attracted me really to this book is its title: Their Eyes Were Watching God. Why? Who were they? Why in past tense?

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) was a popular black writer during the Harlem Renaissance (also known as “New Negro Movement”) in the 1920’s to 30’s. When the Great Depression came, this movement
Aug 03, 2015 Thepocobookreader rated it it was amazing
On publication, Their Eyes Were Watching God was judged as a purely ‘black’ novel of nominal value. Written at the height of the Harlem Renaissance, the novel appeared at a time when African-American writers, artists and musicians were making important steps towards celebrating their afro-centricity and criticising white America for her oppression; and so Hurston’s novel was poorly received. Set in the black township of Eatonville, Their Eyes Were Watching God charts the life of Janie Stark, and ...more
Feb 10, 2010 Ellen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, novels

One of my all-time favorite novels. Most of all, I fell in love with the language in this book.

There's not really any way to spoil this novel, as so much is revealed in the first chapter. And, this book is driven by its characters and its language, rather than plot.

Their Eyes Were Watching God demonstrates the dual potential of language. Language may be used as an instrument of truth to express love, self-fulfillment, and honest emotions. Conversely, language may also be used as an instrument o
A really extraordinary story about love and a woman's consciousness!

In the afterword, the writer singles out Zora Neale Hurston for being "more of a novelist than a social scientist". I totally agree, but I think this also brought out a downside to her way of writing. First of all and most outstandingly, Hurston's greater concern for character and a beautiful story allowed for her book to be engaging and endurable through time, place and culture. The story of a woman's search for love and her ow
Stephen P
Apr 16, 2014 Stephen P rated it it was amazing

The book is in part the mythologies scripted by groups of people to provide reasons for other group's behavior, slip them under the thumb of some form of propagated understanding. Underscoring it all, some cases an accurate reading, is many a limp scare-crowed fret of fear bred by the night fall heaves of insecurity. This is not in any way to disparage or diminish the horrific effects of prejudice against women and blacks which this book is certainly about and has been written extensively but to
Jan 31, 2013 Isaac rated it liked it
Don’t be fooled by the summary on the book jacket, this isn't a love story. A more accurate title would be The Four Black People You Meet in Florida.

This genre is coming-of-age disguised as romance, and as far as the story goes it’s just one black woman trying to find her way through life. While the story has some interesting moments, the plot does not maintain a high enough level of interest to carry readers through to the end.

The main obstacle for me, initially, was the overpowering Southern
Natalie Monroe
Janie was badass up until she met Tea Cake. Then it was "Feminism? What feminism?"
Christopher Klein
Mar 26, 2016 Christopher Klein rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"There is something about poverty that smells like death. Dead dreams dropping off the heart like leaves in a dry season and rotting around the feet; impulses smothered too long in the fetid air of underground caves. The soul lives in a sickly air. People can be slave-ships in shoes."

This one was long overdue for me, as it has been canonized in the black, feminist and american literary traditions.

"Time makes everything old so the kissing young darkness became a monstropolous old thing while Ja
Sep 09, 2015 Louise rated it it was amazing
This may be the closest we can come to seeing African-American culture of Florida two generations away from slavery. Some may say that the book comes from a woman’s point of view, but the story rings so true that it can hardly be called a slant or opinion.

Zora Neal Hurston’s knowledge of American folklore shines in this novel.

Janie, the protagonist, is a woman of endurance and high spirits. She does not let a bad marriage get her down and twice takes a chance on adventure. Husbands re-locate her
Dec 13, 2012 midnightfaerie rated it liked it
Shelves: classics
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston was a piece of black literature that was infinitely more poignant than Uncle Tom's Cabin, yet the plausibility has yet to be decided. I also enjoyed it much more than Uncle Tom's Cabin. The story is about Janie, a beautiful black woman and her journey into adulthood, and on through three marriages that shapes who and what she becomes. Although many criticize Hurston's use of authentic literary diction ("Dey gointuh make 'miration 'cause mah love ...more
What can I add to the discussion of a book championed by Alice Walker and Zadie Smith, except to say that I loved it as much as their enthusiasm led me to expect?

Well, I can recommend this new Virago edition, which contains Smith's careful, personal, triumphant introduction to the text, which also appears in the collection of her non-fiction Changing my Mind. I can say how surprised I, ignorant White person, was to find a nuanced 1937 critique of shadeism/colourism here. I can say I was surprise
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
3.5 stars

I'm of two minds about this book, but I am glad I read it and I do recommend it for the perspective it offers. It's interesting to see a slice of Negro life in the Florida of a century ago. Especially because much of this story takes place in Eatonville, a town the Negroes established for themselves in 1887. I liked seeing how they lived and interacted without white people around to inhibit them.

Hurston's writing contains some very arresting imagery. Her writing style doesn't alw
Oct 07, 2007 Lucy rated it really liked it
This was another book I had little knowledge of when deciding to add it to my "to-read" list. I'd heard of the title, learned it was an Oprah's Book Club choice, and saw it at Sam's Club which inspired me to put a hold on it at the library, but I didn't actually know what it was about.

For that reason, I was a little nervous when I read the foreward and the critic walked me through its rediscovery in the 60s (it was written in 1937) and subsequent controversy over its worthiness as a part of Afri
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Zora Neale Hurston was an American folklorist and author. In 1925, shortly before entering Barnard College, Hurston became one of the leaders of the literary renaissance happening in Harlem, producing the short-lived literary magazine Fire!! along with Langston Hughes and Wallace Thurman. This literary movement became the center of the Harlem Renaissance.

Hurston applied her Barnard ethnographic tr
More about Zora Neale Hurston...

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“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” 2880 likes
“Love is lak de sea. It’s uh movin’ thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from de shore it meets, and it’s different with every shore.” 1190 likes
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