Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, originally published in 1937, my copy by HarperCollins/Perennial Classics 1998, 219 pages.
I had really hoped to finish this in the month of March but SWOOOOOSSssshhHH! did that deadline come and go fast.
So now it’s almost the fourth day of April and I’m still slowly working my way through this gorgeous novel. I am finding the prose part beautiful – insightful – wonderful; and I’m finding the dialog slow-going… It’s almost like I’m translating the words – seeing the letters and tough spellings and hearing them in my head sounded out and then must re-read fast to get the rhythm and THEN pay attention to what’s being said, exchanged, communicated.
I’m loving every minute.
Thus, I thought I would instead remark on my thoughts so far (I’m on page 129), share some of my favorite passages, and a few of the words I’ve come across that I either loved or didn’t know the official definition.
I had always thought that I ‘should’ read this book. I did not expect to find it some wonderfully delightful! I’m telling everyone that I am loving it so much and it’s interesting how many people don’t seem to recognize the title. Well, maybe next time they hear of it, they can remember that “Care told me to read this”!
On young love, awakened undefined and undirected passions: (p. 11; just before Janie gets her first kiss.)
It was a spring afternoon in West Florida. Janie had spent most of the day under a blossoming pear tree in the back yard. She had been spending every minute that she could steal from her chores under that tree for the last three days. That was to say, ever since the first tiny bloom had opened. It had called her to come and gaze on a mystery. From barren brown stems to glistening leaf-buds; from the leaf-buds to snowy virginity of bloom. It stirred her tremendously. How? Why? It was like a flute song forgotten in another existence and remembered again. What? How? Why? This singing she heard that had nothing to do with her ears. The rose of the world was breathing out smell. It followed her through all her waking moments and caressed her in her sleep. It connected itself with other vaguely felt matters that had struck her outside observation and buried themselves in her flesh. Now they emerged and quested about her consciousness.
She was stretched on her back beneath the pear tree soaking in the alto chant of the visistng bees, the gold of the sun and the panting breath of the breeze when the inaudible voice of it all came to her. She saw a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming every blossom and frothing with delight. So this was a marriage!
And when she realizes that love and marriage are NOT necessarily the same thing:
Janie stood where he left her for unmeasured time and thought. She stood there until something fell off the shelf inside her. Then she went inside there to see what it was. It was her image of Jody tumbled down and shattered. But looking at it she saw that it never was the flesh and blood figure of her dreams. Just something she had grabbed up to drape her dreams over. In a way she tuned her back upon the image where it lay and looked further. She had no more blossomy openings dusting pollen over her man, neither any glistening young fruit where the petals used to be. She found that she had a host of thoughts she had never expressed to him, and numerous emotions she had never let Jody know about. Things packed up and put away in parts of her heart where he could never find them. She was saving up feelings for some man she had never seen. She had an inside and an outside now and suddenly she knew how not to mix them.
I noted SO many more paragraphs and passages! I’ll spare you and tell you to just go read it, if you haven’t already.
I could have read this for Ali’s Diversity Challenge, but I didn’t officially sign up for that. I do much better with these reading challenges when I don’t have that ‘have to’ pressure.
zigaboo – a black man that is triflin’; used as an insult.
monstropolous – “Time makes everything old so the kissing, young darkness became a monstropolous old thing while Janie talked.” a made up word!? Creative license by ZNH.
sankled – “Therefore Janie drank her coffee and sankled on back to her room…” Perhaps, something like sauntered – leisurely walked? It’s not like this word is a stumbling block, the cadence and image seems to work, but is it a real word?
meriny – “One big meriny colored woman was so ugly…” Another creative ZNH neologism! The internet search suggest light-colored; I was thinking maybe ruddy-red?
word I found looking up a few of the words from this book!
neologism n. A new word, expression, or usage. The creation or use of new words or senses.
I know this is extremely lazy of me but all the linkings intimidated me beyond my time and effort allowance for getting this post done today! BOO HOO!?
I think that will work, right? Or leave a link in the comments here – I won’t read any reviews until I’m done reading the actual book.
Has anyone seen the movie starring Halle Berry?