Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God is greatly praised by most critics today but was held in a different light when first published. Popular black authors during Hurston’s era held the most disdain for Hurston’s novel. Famous writer Richard Wright harshly criticized the book as a “minstrel technique that makes the ‘white folks’ laugh. Her characters eat and laugh and cry and work and kill; they swing like a pendulum eternally in that safe and narrow orbit in which America likes to see the Negro live: between laughter and tears” (Wright, Between Laughter and Tears). Wright dominated the 40’s decade of writing for blacks (Washington, Foreword). His review explains Hurston book is feeding the whites additional reasons why black are the “lower” race. This was the complete opposite idea of what blacks strived to be seen as and as such Hurston’s novel would be unread by the black culture. This made Wright’s review the most crippling towards Hurston because it was intensely harsh and his influence greatly urge the readers to dismiss Their Eyes Were Watching God leading to its disappearance.
Wright’s review was just one of the critics that destroyed the reputation of Hurston’s novel. Other African-American authors, such as Alain Locke, gave mutilating reviews similar to Wright’s...
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