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Mules and Men

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  5,249 ratings  ·  175 reviews
"Simply the most exciting book on black folklore and culture I have ever read." --Roger D. AbrahamsMules and Men is the first great collection of black America's folk world. In the 1930's, Zora Neale Hurston returned to her "native village" of Eatonville, Florida to record the oral histories, sermons and songs, dating back to the time of slavery, which she remembered heari ...more
Paperback, 341 pages
Published January 22nd 1990 by Amistad (first published 1935)
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Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"Yeah, man. Love is a funny thing; love is a blossom. If you want yo' finger bit poke it at a possum.”

A 1935 ethnographic collection, it sounds dreadful. I liked it. I think this woman is great.

This is this the result of Zora Neale Hurston’s second field effort to collect African-American folklore. The first was a failure. She must have learned a lot. She captured not just stories, but voices that tell them.

Cultural anthropologist of her day didn’t like her participation within the storytelling,
Michael Finocchiaro
This is a short story collection from the ingenious author Zora Neale Hurston. I would suggest reading Their Eyes Were Watching God and if you enjoy the style, dive deeply and fearlessly into her universe with Mules and Men.
Aug 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Mules and Men should be read right along side Joseph Campbell's work. I was drawn more to the anthropological aspect of the book, more so than the literary merits (which it has lots of). Most people forget that Zora Neale Hurston was an Anthropologist who completed extensive fieldwork. In all of her works, anthropology plays an essential role. The use and importance of language is a reoccurring theme of hers, and in Mules and Men it is given equal examination along side African-American mytholog ...more
Oct 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, audiobooks
First off, I didn't read this book but listened to it on an audiobook version. This is a collection of black American folk lore. It is a a group of oral stories that were passed on to and written down by author Zora Neale Hurston (known for Their Eyes Were Watching God). Some of these stories were told back in the days of slavery and ones that Zora heard as a child. This was a project that Ms Hurston started back in the 1930s when she had returned to her hometown of Eatonville, Florida.

What a wo
“Belief in magic is older than writing. So nobody knows how it started.”

I love the idea of this book. And many of the things I read in here will stay with me. But that in-between part--the actual reading of it--was not very fun.

Zora Neale Hurston has such a gift for storytelling. In the beginning I was all excited about reading this because she told of driving around Florida in her car, sort of gathering up folks with stories to tell. The problem was, she handed the storytelling over to them, an
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I can't imagine that the printed book can beat the audio. This was a perfect listening experience. Highly recommend. If you are a fan of Jack's Tales being read to you then this would be a perfect fit.
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people seeking information on voodoo
I wanted to read it for a fix of Zora Neale Hurston, and it wasn't the best choice I could make.

Zora's voice is largely absent from the book. After two chapters, the tales became just meh. Sorry. And the first part of the book (58%, to be precise) is that: a minimalistic narrative frame of some documentary value, but not going _too_ much into details of peoples' day-to-day lives, serving as a background for folk tales. There were some stunning moments, though:
Negro women _are_ punished in thes
The brother in black puts a laugh in every vacant place in his mind. His laugh has a hundred meanings. It may mean amusement, anger, grief, bewilderment, chagrin, curiosity, simple pleasure or any other of the known or undefined emotions. (p. 62)

Mules and Men is a collection of black stories and hoodoo (voodoo), published by Zora Neale Hurston in 1935. To collect such stories, you don't just Google your question; you need to listen carefully. You need to become an accepted member of the group.
The following passage is taken from the blurb on the 2008 Harperperennial paperback edition. This blurb says it all:

"...a treasury of black America's folklore as collected by a famous storyteller and anthropologist who grew up hearing the songs and sermons, sayings and tall tales that have formed an oral history of the South since the time of slavery. Returning to her hometown of Eatonville, Florida, to gather material, Zora Neale Hurston recalls "a hilarious night with a pinch of everything soc
Aug 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Ms. Zora Neale Hurston is my literary hero. That is all.
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book read differently than I though. I thought this was going to be a collection of short stories, instead it's a non-fiction book with interviews. I still liked the book a lot, but I don't recommended to first time Zora readers. Part one is a little hard to read at times too because Zora tries to write the dialect of her people.

The first part of this book is a collection of folklore from her home town Eatonville, Florida. At times I found this a little hard to read, but I still enjoyed hea
robin friedman
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Hurston's Mules And Men

I read Zora Neale Hurston's novel "Their Eyes are Watching God" and wanted to read more. Hurston (1891 -- 1960) had studied anthropology at Barnard with one of the founders of modern anthropology, Franz Boas. With Boas' encouragement and funding from a private source, Hurston travelled South to collect African-American folklore. Her first stop was Eatonville, Florida, an all-black community where Hurston had spent much of her childhood. She then went South to Polk County,
Feb 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: readsoullit, audio
4.0 Stars. Since this was an abridge version of the book, which I didn't know that I had, I wasn't sure if i would have liked it. There was one tale, or "lie" as it is said to be in the book that I felt was cut off, maybe it was just bad editing. But other than that, this was a pleasure to listen to. It is told from Zora's POV and recalls tales, or lies as they are called, that she has heard from her childhood told by the people of her hometown. I think some of them are ridiculous, like the one ...more
Lupita Reads
Feb 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I completely loved the book. There is something really beautiful about knowing that she went out and collected these book of lies that have out lived her and will hopefully outlive us. This is what makes life beautiful. Reading stories from all walks of life and different perspectives. I truly enjoyed this book. So true and very refreshing. I totally can't wait to re-read "Their eyes were watching God".
Melanie Page
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mules and Men by Zora Neale Hurston can be a hilarious read at times, all while giving insight into 1930s Floridian black communities in the swamps. Yet, this collection can struggle because it ultimately doesn’t know how to be what it wants to be.

Check out my full review at Grab the Lapels.
Feb 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
An interesting mix of travelogue, folklore, and ethnography. The book reads as two yoked under one title; in the first part Hurston embeds African-American folktales within a fast-moving narrative frame, while in the second she switches to more deliberately recounting her research of different practices of hoodoo in the South.
Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a GoodRead! Unaware I was reading an abridged version of this read it still was a GoodRead, I just wonder what was taking out, the reason I normally do not read abridged books.
Patrice Jones
3.5 stars
Dec 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
Pioneering folklore and ethnography. Little analysis.
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The writing itself was great, but the most amazing bit was how her style conveyed both love and respect for tradition, black history and floklore.
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
I forgot that Hurston was an anthropologist! This book (which I listened to as an audio book, highly recommended) contained stories and commentary from her fieldwork collecting African-American folklore in Florida and Louisiana.
Feb 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People interested in folk talkes, Hoodoo, African history
I need to go back and re-read Their Eyes Were Watching God. It has been quite a few years since I read that and I remember the feelings I felt while reading better than actual details. In any case, this is a bit of a different novel-it's closer to nonfiction with a focal point being the lies or tall tales of the African communities from Florida to New Orleans in the 1930s. Zora was a bit of an outsider even though she was born in the South and was an African American woman because she was educat ...more
Justin Sangster
Feb 11, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was interesting at times due to Hurston's description the socio/historic nature of Southern localities where she collected her stories. The section on voodoo was the most interesting to me. The "lies" or folktales she collected were interesting, but they just didn't have much of a payoff in my opinion. I'm glad a read it.
Aug 06, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Zora Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God is my favorite book, the descriptions are like deep-pile velvet. I expected the same style from Mules and Men. As I understand it, she collected these stories as part of a project at Barnard over a period of at least 7 years and did not initially write after she collected the information,but made another trip back to her birthplace, though I would have trouble calling it her "home" since she seemed to carry that sense of home with her, perhaps a nomad ...more
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is one of the most unique books I have ever read. The first part of it is Hurston's collections of folklore from southern, rural African Americans in Florida and other places. She wrote them so beautifully in the vernacular of the people telling the stories that it feels like the reader is sitting right next to Hurston on the front porch of someone's home or at the Juke Joint. There are stories of survival, triumph and failure as people come together to live their lives in communities. Hurs ...more
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Zora Neale Hurston had a great interest in the African American storytelling and folklore traditions which were a prominent part of her childhood in Eatonville, Florida as well as across the entire American South. At a time in history when the lives of African Americans weren't given much regard at all, Hurston (with assistance from a Charlotte Osgood Mason - a patron of many Harlem Renaissance authors) spent 1928-1932 visiting her hometown and the surrounding cities, as well as New Orleans in L ...more
Sean A.
Aug 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
this proved to be a lively and approachable vision of the 'big lies' (folktales) of southern black folk from an era that seems bygone or at least far away to a white midwesterner living in the 21st century such as myself. the content of these tales is biting yet down-to-earth, over-the-top yet earnest. the narrative is made up almost entirely of a travelogue of sorts, with our narrator going from town to town in florida documenting different variations of the oral tradition of these towns, story ...more
Kevin Mckinney
Oct 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is really probably a 3.5 for me, but you can't give half-stars here, so I'd rather overrate it than underrate it. Some of the stories in here are genuinely hilarious and very fun to read and overall this was a great introduction to some themes in African American folklore. I'd like to try to find a book that's a bit more recent and that maybe has a bit more analysis because a lot of Mules and Men is just ZNH driving around Florida and transcribing people's stories without much commentary on ...more
Matthew Talamini
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a totally fascinating peek into the old South of the 30s. Half travel memoir and half folklore catalogue, it's never boring and it really seems to give a sense of what things were like in the places she visited. The first half is Ms. Hurston gathering stories around Florida. It's full of Brer Dog and the Devil and John and the Lord and Ole Massa, intercut with the day-to-day life of the little towns and logging camps around Polk County. The second half is all about Hoodoo and takes place ...more
Oct 24, 2011 rated it liked it
This is really two different books. The first book is stories or lies that [s. Hurston captured during the Great Depression. These are best to read one or two and set aside. Maybe even read outloud. While there were some I enjoyed this isn't something that I would normally read. The second half is about Voodoo or Hoodoo and Ms. Hurston's experiences learning it. This had more of a flow that I am used to reading and enjoyed it much more. Overall, I can appreciate this, but not something I would b ...more
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Into the Forest: Mules and Men 13 22 Oct 10, 2020 03:40PM  
Goodreads Librari...: original publication date 2 12 Jul 24, 2016 08:15AM  

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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

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