A major literary event: a newly published work from the author of the American classic Their Eyes Were Watching God, with a foreword from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker, brilliantly illuminates the horror and injustices of slavery as it tells the true story of one of the last-known survivors of the Atlantic slave trade—abducted from Africa on the last "Black Cargo" ship to arrive in the United States.In 1927, Zora Neale Hurston went to Plateau, Alabama, just outside Mobile, to interview eighty-six-year-old Cudjo Lewis. Of the millions of men, women, and children transported from Africa to America as slaves, Cudjo was then the only person alive to tell the story of this integral part of the nation’s history. Hurston was there to record Cudjo’s firsthand account of the raid that led to his capture and bondage fifty years after the Atlantic slave trade was outlawed in the United States.In 1931, Hurston returned to Plateau, the African-centric community three miles from Mobile founded by Cudjo and other former slaves from his ship. Spending more than three months there, she talked in depth with Cudjo about the details of his life. During those weeks, the young writer and the elderly formerly enslaved man ate peaches and watermelon that grew in the backyard and talked about Cudjo’s past—memories from his childhood in Africa, the horrors of being captured and held in a barracoon for selection by American slavers, the harrowing experience of the Middle Passage packed with more than 100 other souls aboard the Clotilda, and the years he spent in slavery until the end of the Civil War.Based on those interviews, featuring Cudjo’s unique vernacular, and written from Hurston’s perspective with the compassion and singular style that have made her one of the preeminent American authors of the twentieth-century, Barracoon masterfully illustrates the tragedy of slavery and of one life forever defined by it. Offering insight into the pernicious legacy that continues to haunt us all, black and white, this poignant and powerful work is an invaluable contribution to our shared history and culture.
Based on acclaimed author Zora Neale Hurston's personal experiences in Haiti and Jamaica—where she participated as an initiate rather than just an observer during her visits in the 1930s—Tell My Horse is a fascinating firsthand account of the mysteries of Voodoo. An invaluable resource and remarkable guide to Voodoo practices, rituals, and beliefs, it is a travelogue into a dark, mystical world that offers a vividly authentic picture of ceremonies, customs, and superstitions.
This Library of America volume, with its companion, brings together for the first time all of the best writing of Zora Neale Hurston, one of the most significant twentieth-century American writers, 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 herself 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 voodoo 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 twenty-six photographs, many of them taken by Hurston. Her extensive transcriptions of Creole songs are here accompanied by new translations.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 because of political controversy, sexual candor, or fear of libel. Included in an appendix are four additional chapters, one never published, which 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.
This Library of America volume, with its companion, brings together for the first time all of Zora Neale Hurston’s best writing in one authoritative set. When she died in poverty and obscurity in 1960, all of her books were out of print. Today Hurston’s 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 modern American writers.Hurston’s fiction is free-flowing and frequently experimental, exuberant in its storytelling and open to unpredictable and fascinating digressions. Jonah’s Gourd Vine (1934), based on the lives of her parents and evoking in rich detail the world of her childhood, recounts the rise and fall of a powerful preacher torn between spirit and flesh in an all-black town in Florida.“There is no book more important to me than this one,” novelist Alice Walker has written about Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), Hurston’s lyrical masterpiece about a woman’s determined struggle for love and independence. In this, her most acclaimed work, she employs a striking range of tones and voices to give the story of Janie and Tea Cake the poetic intensity of a myth.In Moses, Man of the Mountain (1939), her high-spirited and utterly personal retelling of the Exodus story, Hurston again demonstrates her ability to use the black vernacular as the basis for a supple and compelling prose style.Seraph on the Suwanee (1948), Hurston’s last major work, is set in turn-of-the-century Florida and portrays the passionate clash between a poor southern “cracker” and her willful husband.A selection of short stories (among them “Spunk,” “The Bone of Contention,” and “Story in Harlem Slang”) further displays Hurston’s unique fusion of folk traditions and literary modernism—comic, ironic, and soaringly poetic.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.
“Warm, witty, imaginative. . . . This is a rich and winning book.”—The New YorkerDust Tracks on a Road is the bold, poignant, and funny autobiography of novelist, folklorist, and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston, one of American literature’s most compelling and influential authors. Hurston’s powerful novels of the South—including Jonah’s Gourd Vine and, most famously, Their Eyes Were Watching God—continue to enthrall readers with their lyrical grace, sharp detail, and captivating emotionality. First published in 1942, Dust Tracks on a Road is Hurston’s personal story, told in her own words. The Perennial Modern Classics Deluxe edition includes an all-new forward by Maya Angelou, an extended biography by Valerie Boyd, and a special P.S. section featuring the contemporary reviews that greeted the book’s original publication.
This landmark gathering of Zora Neale Hurston's short fiction—most of which appeared only in literary magazines during her lifetime—reveals the evolution of one of the most important African American writers. Spanning her career from 1921 to 1955, these stories attest to Hurston's tremendous range and establish themes that recur in her longer fiction. With rich language and imagery, the stories in this collection not only map Hurston's development and concerns as a writer but also provide an invaluable reflection of the mind and imagination of the author of the acclaimed novel Their Eyes Were Watching God.
Mules and Men is 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 social mixed with the storytelling." Set intimately within the social context of black life, the stories, "big old lies," songs, Vodou customs, and superstitions recorded in these pages capture the imagination and bring back to life the humor and wisdom that is the unique heritage of African Americans.
Every Tongue Got to Confess is an extensive volume of African American folklore that Zora Neale Hurston collected on her travels through the Gulf States in the late 1920s.The bittersweet and often hilarious tales -- which range from longer narratives about God, the Devil, white folk, and mistaken identity to witty one-liners -- reveal attitudes about faith, love, family, slavery, race, and community. Together, this collection of nearly 500 folktales weaves a vibrant tapestry that celebrates African American life in the rural South and represents a major part of Zora Neale Hurston's literary legacy.
Winner of the 2007 Wesley-Logan Prize of the American Historical Association, the 2009 G. Sulzby Award of the Alabama Historical Association and a 2008 finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, this acclaimed volume tells the moving story of the last recorded group of Africans deported to the United States as slaves--more than fifty years after the United States abolished the international slave trade. Sylviane A. Diouf reconstructs the lives of 110 men, women, and children from Benin and Nigeria who were brought ashore in Alabama in 1860 under cover of night, recounting their capture and passage in the slave pen in Ouidah, and describing their experience of slavery alongside American-born enslaved men and women. After emancipation, the group reunited from various plantations, bought land, and founded their own settlement, known as African Town. They ruled it according to customary African laws, spoke their own regional language and, when giving interviews, insisted that writers use their African names so that their families would know that they were still alive. African Town is still home to a community of Clotilda descendants.