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Essay about A Postmodern Tendancy in Their Eyes Were Watching God

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A Postmodern Tendancy in Their Eyes Were Watching God


 
     ...Zora Neale Hurston lacks [any] excuse. The sensory sweep of her novel

carries no theme, no message, no thought. In the main, her novel is not

addressed to the Negro, but to a white audience whose chauvinistic tastes she

knows how to satisfy. She exploits the phase of Negro life which is "quaint," the

phase which evokes a piteous smile on the lips of the "superior" race.

-- from "Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)," a review by Richard Wright

 

 

An unfortunate side effect of the postmodern tendency is often reactions like the above. Zora's work was not readily accepted in its time. Unlike fellow writers such as Faulkner and Joyce, Hurston's was not incubated by the academy until theory could catch up to inspiration. Like writers such as Nabokov, however, her postmodernity is subtle and her novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, is littered with trap doors to plunge the reader into a deeper interpretation of the text. Cynthia Bond picks up on this in her essay, "Language, Speech and Difference in Their Eyes Were Watching God," when she calls it a meta-linguistic project (Bond, 206)." Further evidence of this depth is in the plentitude of critical work to appear since Zora's rediscovery two decades ago and in the fact that, despite the voluminous attention given to Their Eyes Were Watching God, critics have failed to explore every facet of the novel. Ihab Hassan writes, in "Toward a Concept of Postmodernism," that we can look at writers of the past and realize their postmodernity. His theory fits with the idea that postmodernism is not a movement, but a trait that is exhibited by certain authors pushing the limits of their time. Mo...


... middle of paper ...


...h, K.A. and Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. eds. Zora Neale Hurston: Critical Perspectives Past and Present. New York: Amistad Press, Inc., 1993.

Bond, Cynthia. "Language, Sign, and Difference in Their Eyes Were Watching God." Appiah and Gates 204-17.

Derrida, Jacques. "Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discouse of the Human Sciences." Hutcheon and Natoli 223-43.

Foucault, Michel. "Excerpts from Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism." Hutcheon and Natoli 333-341.

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, Inc., 1990.

Hutcheon, Linda, and Natoli, Joseph, eds. A Postmodern Reader. New York: SUNY, 1993.

Lyotard, Jean-Francois. "Excerpts from The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge." Hutcheon and Natoli 71-90.

Wright, Richard. "Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)." Appiah and Gates 16.


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