When she died in poverty and obscurity in 1960, all of Zora Neale Hurston's books were out of print. Today her groundbreaking works, suffused with the culture and traditions of African-Americans and the poetry of black speech, have won her recognition as one of the most significant African-American writers. This volume, with its companion, Novels & Stories brings together for the first time all of Hurston's best writings in one authoritative set.
"Folklore is the arts of the people", Hurston wrote, "before they find out that there is any such thing as art". A pioneer of African-American ethnography who did graduate study in anthropology with the renowned Franz Boas, Hurston devoted herseif to preserving the black folk heritage. In Mules and Men (1935), the first book of African-American folklore written by an African-American, she returned to her native Florida and to New Orleans to record stories and sermons, blues and work songs, children's games, courtship rituals, and formulas of hoodoo doctors. This classic work is presented here with the original illustrations by the great Mexican artist Miguel Covarrubias.
Tell My Horse (1938), part ethnography, part travel book, vividly recounts the survival of African religion in Jamaican obeah and Haitian voodoo in the 1930s. Keenly alert to political and intellectual currents, Hurston went beyond superficial exoticism to explore the role of these religious systems in their societies. The text is illustrated by 26 photographs, many of them taken by Huston. Her extensive transcriptions of Creole songs here accompanied by new translation.
A special feature of this volume is Hurston's controversial 1942 autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road.
With consultation by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., it is presented here for the first time as she intended, restoring passages omitted by the original publisher because of political controversy, sexual candor, or fear of libel. Included in an appendix are four additional chapters, one never before published, that represent earlier stages of Hurston's conception of the book.
Twenty-two essays, from "The Eatonville Anthology" (1926) to "Court Order Can't Make Races Mix" (1955), demonstrate the range of Hurston's concerns as they cover subjects from religion, music, and Harlem slang to Jim Crow and American democracy.
The chronology of Hurston's life prepared for this edition sheds fresh light on many aspects of her career. In addition, this volume contains detailed notes and a brief essay on the texts.
About the Author
Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) was a novelist, short story writer, folklorist, and anthropologist and a major figure in the Harlem Renaissance best known for her 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God.
Cheryl A. Wall is Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English at Rutgers University. She is the editor of Changing Our Own Words: Essays on Criticism, Theory, and Writing by Black Women and the author of Worrying the Line.