After decades of relegation to the margins of American literary history, Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God has recently been rediscovered by American literary and cultural scholars who have begun to explore the novel's thematic, ideological, and aesthetic complexity. In the introduction to this volume Michael Awkward provides an overview of the critical reception of Hurston's novel, from the largely dismissive reviews accompanying the novel's publication in 1937, to factors which helped revive interest in Hurston in the 1960s, to its recent establishment as a central American novel. The other essays in the volume discuss Hurston's sophisticated use of black folklore, the autobiographical resonances in the novel, Hurston's definition of the relationship between black artists and the Afro-American masses, and the usefulness of feminist modes of inquiry. This collection offers fresh insight for approaching Hurston's compelling exploration of a black woman's extended search for self and community.
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