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Hurston has emerged as one of the most significant American writers of the 20th century, despite being criticized during her lifetime for composing books that perpetuated racist stereotypes of blacks instead of being recognized as a skilled folklorist. This biography focuses upon Hurston's life and work, examining her carefully crafted public image and her use of place—Eatonville, Florida; the American South; and the Caribbean—to interpret African-American individual and group identity.
The author made use of fresh work on Hurston including a recently discovered body of plays, Library of Congress sound recordings, documentaries, and a collection of letters to create a comprehensive, compelling, and highly accurate biography. Each chapter provides a detailed exploration of how the key people and experiences in Hurston's life influenced her aesthetic vision, impacted her social and political reality, and cast her role in discussions of black art and civil rights.
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Zora Neale Hurston is best known for authoring the 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, a book that generated much controversy and criticism among her Harlem Renaissance peers for its phonetic representation of Southern black dialect. Their Eyes Were Watching God was recently adapted for television, starring Halle Berry and produced by Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Productions.Review:
· Incorporates the last decade of published material by and about Hurston, providing a thorough and thoroughly entertaining biography appropriate for high school students as well as general readers
· Examines how Hurston's interpersonal relationships affected key developments in her life and career
· Covers key shifts in Hurston's thinking about herself and her role in society
· Uses public and private writing—including work unpublished during her lifetime—to elucidate contradictory elements of Hurston's image
· Written by a scholar who specializes in the study of Hurston and the richness of her life and work
· Provides a chronological presentation of the significant events in Hurston's life
· Includes photographs highlighting Hurston's style as a way to understand her self-conscious crafting of a public identity
· A bibliography contains a listing of work by and on Hurston, including electronic resources
· An index enables readers to easily find specific information
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