Every Tongue Got to Confess: Negro Folk-Tales from the Gulf States

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
If you're a fan of Zora Neale Hurston, you've been waiting a long time: This is first book by the great African-American author to appear in more than 50 years! Compiled in the late '20s, Every Tongue Got to Confess is Hurston's collection of nearly 500 folktales from the rural black South. As Hurston devotees know, the Alabama-born author regarded folklore as her first love, and it was always an integral element of her creativity.
Janet Maslin
In compiling Every Tongue Got to Confess Hurston clearly placed as much emphasis on imagination as on authenticity. She gives these stories a sharp immediacy and a fine supply of down-to-earth humor.
New York Times
Julius Lester
In Every Tongue Got to Confess, the book's great value for us today is in the way it returns us to Hurston's literary and academic roots as a folklorist and anthropologist and to the people and material which inspired and enriched her fiction.
Los Angeles Times
From The Critics
In 1927, the aspiring anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston set out from New York for the Deep South, hoping to amass a collection of the African-American folklore she had loved since her childhood. Armed with a scholarly grant and her academic training, Hurston bought herself a car and a pistol and headed off for sawmills, turpentine camps and juke joints where black vernacular culture prospered. The experience was pivotal in Hurston's career, reintroducing her to the Southern folk who would be at the center of her fiction and reminding her of the vitality of their culture. She had feared that "Negroness" was disappearing beneath urban society; the journey showed her that it was alive and well and "still in the making." Unfortunately, most of the material Hurston collected was never published, and what did reach the public had often been reworked to meet the demands of publishers and patrons. So it was a lucky event when the manuscript of this collection was recently discovered moldering in the Library of Congress. Published here for the first time, these folktales of the black South appear as Hurston wanted them seen: as unadorned testaments to the suffering and the vibrant, creative humor of her people.
—Sean McCann

Publishers Weekly
Although Hurston is better known for her novels, particularly Their Eyes Were Watching God, she might have been prouder of her anthropological field work. In 1927, with the support of Franz Boas, the dean of American anthropologists, Hurston traveled the Deep South collecting stories from black laborers, farmers, craftsmen and idlers. These tales featured a cast of characters made famous in Joel Chandler Harris's bowdlerized Uncle Remus versions, including John (related, no doubt, to High John the Conqueror), Brer Fox and various slaves. But for Hurston these stories were more than entertainments; they represented a utopia created to offset the sometimes unbearable pressures of disenfranchisement: "Brer Fox, Brer Deer, Brer 'Gator, Brer Dawg, Brer Rabbit, Ole Massa and his wife were walking the earth like natural men way back in the days when God himself was on the ground and men could talk with him." Hurston's notes, which somehow got lost, were recently rediscovered in someone else's papers at the Smithsonian. Divided into 15 categories ("Woman Tales," "Neatest Trick Tales," etc.), the stories as she jotted them down range from mere jokes of a few paragraphs to three-page episodes. Many are set "in slavery time," with "massa" portrayed as an often-gulled, but always potentially punitive, presence. There are a variety of "how come" and trickster stories, written in dialect. Acting the part of the good anthropologist, Hurston is scrupulously impersonal, and, as a result, the tales bear few traces of her inimitable voice, unlike Tell My Horse, her classic study of Haitian voodoo. Though this may limit the book's appeal among general readers, it is a boon for Hurston scholars and may, as Kaplan says in her introduction, establish Hurston's importance as an African-American folklorist. (Dec.) Forecast: Hurston's name will ensure this title ample review coverage, and it should do well among lovers of folktales, particularly those curious about Hurston's career in the field. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Folklorist Hurston, who died in 1960, collected these stories in the late 1920s from African Americans in the rural South. The tales range from one liners to more complex stories, divided by subject: God tales, neatest trick tales, preacher tales, devil tales, and so on. Hurston replicates the vernacular in which these were told. In this recorded version, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis perform and are able to include the often sly, often sparkling wit of the original tellers. A real treat for students of folklore, black culture, or anyone who likes hearing good stories well-told. Nann Blaine Hilyard, Lake Villa Dist. Lib., IL Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This entertaining collection, which was left unpublished in 1929 and only recently unearthed, is a fine companion to Hurston's earlier volumes, Tell My Horse (1937) and Mules and Men (1935). The late (1891-1960) author of the classic novels Jonah's Gourd Vine and Their Eyes Were Watching God was also a knowledgeable folklorist, as we learn again from John Edgar Wideman's tributory foreword and Editor Kaplan's informative introduction. The latter discusses Hurston's energetic research into indigenous tales and legends, supported by minimal grants, the WPA, and a wealthy white patron. The stories themselves-ranging from single-sentence utterances to fully detailed and developed anecdotes-are arranged in 17 specific categories focusing on such subjects as gender relations ("Women Tales"); racial inequity and enmity ("Massa and White Folks Tales"); creation stories, many akin to Joel Chandler Harris's Uncle Remus stories ("Talking Animal Tales"); and several varieties of folk supernaturalism ("God Tales," "Devil Tales"). Frequent use of racial epithets and dialect reminiscent of minstrel shows will probably offend many contemporary readers, but are indisputable evidence of the authenticity of Hurston's presentations: in almost every case of stories she heard directly from ordinary people, many of them illiterate. There is inevitable repetition, but not as much as one might expect. And there are many pleasures: impudent alternative versions of familiar biblical tales and good-natured mockery of religious truisms ("What in the hell does ...[an] angel need with ... [Jacob's] ladder when he's got wings"); sly references to racial imperatives (a black man falling off a roof notices he'sabout to land on a white woman-"so he turnt right roun' and fell back upon dat house"); a ribald explanation of why women don't serve in the army, and several clever one-liners about the physical (and marital) problems encountered by snails. A rich harvest of native storytelling.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060934545
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/20/2002
  • Series: Harper Perennial Series
  • Edition description: 1st Perennial Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 435,218
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) was a novelist, folklorist, and anthropologist whose fictional and factual accounts of black heritage remain unparalleled. Her many books include Dust Tracks on a Road; Their Eyes Were Watching God; Jonah's Gourd Vine; Moses, Man of the Mountain; Mules and Men; and Every Tongue Got to Confess.

Biography

During the 1920s, African-American culture in the United States received an exhilarating shot in the arm in the era known as the Harlem Renaissance. For the first time, black American art, music, and literature was being taken seriously among the intelligentsia as a significant force in contemporary culture. At the front of that movement were several writers, including Zora Neale Hurston.

Hurston's work reflected the liberation and experimentation of post-war America. She published stories and co-founded the groundbreaking journal Fire! with poet Langston Hughes and novelist Wallace Thurman. By the ‘30s, Hurston was a bestselling writer, but with the Renaissance on the wane and a new era of politics, economic depression, and the "social realism" movement, Hurston's once glorious literary career was running into dire straits. She would end her life destitute, practically forgotten, buried in an unmarked grave in Florida. However, a resurgence of interest in her work during the 1970s and the tireless work of writer Alice Walker would help reestablish Hurston in her rightful place as one of America's greatest and most influential writers.

Born in Eatonville, Florida, in 1891 to a father who was a Baptist preacher, Hurston was well-versed from birth in the dynamics of the Southern black experience. She brought that keen vision to her writing and published her first story in the Howard University literary magazine while attending the school in 1921. Still, it was not until Hurston moved to New York City in 1925 that she really began to make waves on the literary scene. Her writing was characterized by its unflagging honesty and strength, qualities that Hurston herself exuded. She often ruffled feathers by refusing to adhere to the constricting gender conventions prevalent at the time. This strength and self-confidence was already apparent in the writer's very first works. Her debut novel Jonah's Gourde Vine was praised by The New York Times as "the most vital and original novel about the American Negro that has yet been written by a member of the Negro race." Her second was a bona fide classic, Mules and Men, a compendium of African American folk tales, songs, and maxims that drew on Hurston's extensive studies in Anthropology.

By the time Hurston published her signature work Their Eyes Were Watching God, the freestyle experimentalism of the Harlem Renaissance was being increasingly overcast by the Great Depression. As a result, a backlash ensued. Their Eyes Were Watching God, which told of a woman named Janie Crawford who goes through three marriages to separate men as she struggles to realize herself, was too steeped in the experimentalism of the Renaissance to please critics. Furthermore, her portrayal of a black woman's search for personal liberation was too much for many black men to stomach. Richard Wright, the acclaimed author of Native Son, even dismissed Their Eyes Were Watching God for not being "serious fiction." Today, such criticism may seem absurd, or at the very least, incredibly short-sighted, but at the time, Hurston's daring prose was not in vogue amongst the social realists.

Their Eyes Were Watching God, instead, displays a true structural adventurousness, splitting between the eloquence of the narrative voice and the idiomatic, ungrammatical dialogue of the black, southern characters. While works of the social realism movement were easily categorized by their left-wing politics and gritty delivery, Their Eyes Were Watching God was less simple to pigeonhole. It is at once a product of the Harlem Renaissance, an example of Southern literature along the lines of Faulkner, and a work of feminist literature. Consequently, the novel was criticized for being out of step with the times, and it went out of print very shortly after being published, leading to the collapse of Hurston's career and her standing as a significant literary figure.

Hurston would die in 1960, back in Florida, destitute, forgotten. Her books long unavailable, her death barely registered. She would not return to the public eye until 1975, when Alice Walker published an essay titled "In Search of Zora Neale Hurston" in Ms. magazine. Along with other writer including Robert Hemenway and Tony Cade Bambara, Walker went on a crusade to revitalize Hurston's career fifteen years after the writer's death.

When Their Eyes Were Watching God was finally republished, it was reevaluated as a classic. Today, the novel is required reading in universities all over the country, and Hurston is widely acknowledged as one of the first great African-American women writers. As a final tribute to her idol, Walker also traveled to Florida where Hurston is buried and placed a marker on her grave, a long-overdue tribute to a great American writer reading with beautiful simplicity: "Zora Neale Hurston: Genius of the South."

Good To Know

Hurston's earliest work was a comedic play called Mule Bone, which she co-wrote with Langston Hughes. However, the play would not be performed until 1991 due to an arduous legal battle that also brought an untimely end to the friendship between Hurston and Hughes.

Spike Lee's audacious debut film She's Gotta Have It has been viewed by some as a hip adaptation of Their Eyes Were Watching God, and the fact that the film opens with a quotation from Zora Neale Hurston may prove such theories correct.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      January 7, 1891
    2. Place of Birth:
      Eatonville, Florida
    1. Date of Death:
      January 28, 1960
    2. Place of Death:
      Fort Pierce, Florida
    1. Education:
      B.A., Barnard College, 1928 (the school's first black graduate). Went on to study anthropology at Columbia University.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One



Why God Made Adam Last



God wuz through makin' de Ian' an' de sea an' de birds an' de animals an' de fishes an' de trees befo' He made man. He wuz intendin' tuh make 'im all along, but He put it off tuh de last cause if He had uh made Adam fust an' let him see Him makin' all dese other things, when Eve wuz made Adam would of stood round braggin' tuh her. He would of said: "Eve, do you see dat ole stripe-ed tagger (tiger) over dere? Ah made. See dat ole narrow geraffe (giraffe) over dere? Ah made 'im too. See dat big ole tree over dere? Ah made dat jus' so you could set under it."

God knowed all dat, so He jus' waited till everything wuz finished before he made man, cause He knows man will lie and brag on hisself tuh uh woman. Man ain't found out yet how things wuz made -- he ain't meant tuh know.

--James Presley.


When God first put folks on earth there wasn't no difference between men and women. They was all alike. They did de same work and everything. De man got tired uh fussin 'bout who gointer do this and who gointer do that.

So he went up tuh God and ast him tuh give him power over de woman so dat he could rule her and stop all dat arguin'.

He ast Him tuh give him a lil mo' strength and he'd do de heavy work and let de woman jus' take orders from him whut to do. He tole Him he wouldn't mind doing de heavy [work] if he could jus' boss de job. So de Lawd done all he ast Him and he went on back home -- and right off he started tuh bossin' de womanuh-round.

So de woman didn't lak dat a-tall. So she went up tuh God and ast Him how come He give man all de power and didn't leave her none. So He tole her, "You never ast Me for none. I thought you was satisfied."

She says, "Well, I ain't, wid de man bossin' me round lak he took tuh doin' since you give him all de power. I wants half uh his power. Take it away and give it tuh me."

De Lawd shook His head. He tole her, "I never takes nothin' back after I done give it out. It's too bad since you don't like it, but you shoulda come up wid him, then I woulda 'vided it half and half."

De woman was so mad she left dere spittin' lak a cat. She went straight tuh de devil. He tole her: "I'll tell you whut to do. You go right back up tuh God and ast Him tuh give you dat bunch uh keys hangin' by de mantle shelf, den bring 'em here tuh me and I'll tell you whut to do wid 'em, and you kin have mo' power than man."

So she did and God give 'em tuh her thout uh word and she took 'em back tuh de devil. They was three keys on dat ring. So de devil tole her whut they was. One was de key to de bedroom and one was de key to de cradle and de other was de kitchen key. He tole her not tuh go home and start no fuss, jus' take de keys and lock up everything an' wait till de man come in -- and she could have her way. So she did. De man tried tuh ack stubborn at first. But he couldn't git no peace in de bed and nothin' tuh eat, an' he couldn't make no generations tuh follow him unless he use his power tuh suit de woman. It wasn't doin' him no good tuh have de power cause she wouldn't let 'im use it lak he wanted tuh. So he tried tuh dicker wid her. He said he'd give her half de power if she would let him keep de keys half de time.

De devil popped right up and tole her naw, jus' keep whut she got and let him keep whut he got. So de man went back up tuh God, but He tole him Jus' lak he done de woman.

So he ast God jus' tuh give him part de key tuh de cradle so's he could know and be sure who was de father of chillun, but God shook His head and tole him: "You have tuh ast de woman and take her word. She got de keys and I never take back whut I give out."

So de man come on back and done lak de woman tole him for de sake of peace in de bed. And thass how come women got de power over mens today.

--Old Man Drummond.


God done pretty good when He made man, but He could have made us a lot more convenient. For instance: we only got eyes in de front uh our heads -- we need some in de back, too, so nuthin' can't slip upon us. Nuther thing: it would be handy, too, ef we had one right on de end uv our dog finger (first finger). Den we could jest point dat eye any which way. Nuther thing: our mouths oughter be on top uv our heads 'stead uh right in front. Then, when I'm late tuh work I kin just throw my breakfast in my hat, an' put my hat on my head, an' eat my breakfast as I go on tuh work. Now, ain't dat reasonable, Miss? Besides, mouths ain't so pretty nohow.

--George Brown.


One day Christ wuz going along wid His disciples an' He tole 'em all tuh pick up uh rock an' bring it along. All of 'em got one, but Peter...

Every Tongue Got to Confess. Copyright © by Zora Hurston. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

Foreword xi
Introduction xxi
A Note to the Reader xxxiii
Negro Folk-tales from the Gulf States 1
Appendix 1257
Appendix 2259
Appendix 3 "Stories Kossula Told Me" 265
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First Chapter

Chapter One



Why God Made Adam Last



God wuz through makin' de Ian' an' de sea an' de birds an' de animals an' de fishes an' de trees befo' He made man. He wuz intendin' tuh make 'im all along, but He put it off tuh de last cause if He had uh made Adam fust an' let him see Him makin' all dese other things, when Eve wuz made Adam would of stood round braggin' tuh her. He would of said: "Eve, do you see dat ole stripe-ed tagger (tiger) over dere? Ah made. See dat ole narrow geraffe (giraffe) over dere? Ah made 'im too. See dat big ole tree over dere? Ah made dat jus' so you could set under it."

God knowed all dat, so He jus' waited till everything wuz finished before he made man, cause He knows man will lie and brag on hisself tuh uh woman. Man ain't found out yet how things wuz made -- he ain't meant tuh know.

--James Presley.


When God first put folks on earth there wasn't no difference between men and women. They was all alike. They did de same work and everything. De man got tired uh fussin 'bout who gointer do this and who gointer do that.

So he went up tuh God and ast him tuh give him power over de woman so dat he could rule her and stop all dat arguin'.

He ast Him tuh give him a lil mo' strength and he'd do de heavy work and let de woman jus' take orders from him whut to do. He tole Him he wouldn't mind doing de heavy [work] if he could jus' boss de job. So de Lawd done all he ast Him and he went on back home -- and right off he started tuh bossin' dewoman uh-round.

So de woman didn't lak dat a-tall. So she went up tuh God and ast Him how come He give man all de power and didn't leave her none. So He tole her, "You never ast Me for none. I thought you was satisfied."

She says, "Well, I ain't, wid de man bossin' me round lak he took tuh doin' since you give him all de power. I wants half uh his power. Take it away and give it tuh me."

De Lawd shook His head. He tole her, "I never takes nothin' back after I done give it out. It's too bad since you don't like it, but you shoulda come up wid him, then I woulda 'vided it half and half."

De woman was so mad she left dere spittin' lak a cat. She went straight tuh de devil. He tole her: "I'll tell you whut to do. You go right back up tuh God and ast Him tuh give you dat bunch uh keys hangin' by de mantle shelf, den bring 'em here tuh me and I'll tell you whut to do wid 'em, and you kin have mo' power than man."

So she did and God give 'em tuh her thout uh word and she took 'em back tuh de devil. They was three keys on dat ring. So de devil tole her whut they was. One was de key to de bedroom and one was de key to de cradle and de other was de kitchen key. He tole her not tuh go home and start no fuss, jus' take de keys and lock up everything an' wait till de man come in -- and she could have her way. So she did. De man tried tuh ack stubborn at first. But he couldn't git no peace in de bed and nothin' tuh eat, an' he couldn't make no generations tuh follow him unless he use his power tuh suit de woman. It wasn't doin' him no good tuh have de power cause she wouldn't let 'im use it lak he wanted tuh. So he tried tuh dicker wid her. He said he'd give her half de power if she would let him keep de keys half de time.

De devil popped right up and tole her naw, jus' keep whut she got and let him keep whut he got. So de man went back up tuh God, but He tole him Jus' lak he done de woman.

So he ast God jus' tuh give him part de key tuh de cradle so's he could know and be sure who was de father of chillun, but God shook His head and tole him: "You have tuh ast de woman and take her word. She got de keys and I never take back whut I give out."

So de man come on back and done lak de woman tole him for de sake of peace in de bed. And thass how come women got de power over mens today.

--Old Man Drummond.


God done pretty good when He made man, but He could have made us a lot more convenient. For instance: we only got eyes in de front uh our heads -- we need some in de back, too, so nuthin' can't slip upon us. Nuther thing: it would be handy, too, ef we had one right on de end uv our dog finger (first finger). Den we could jest point dat eye any which way. Nuther thing: our mouths oughter be on top uv our heads 'stead uh right in front. Then, when I'm late tuh work I kin just throw my breakfast in my hat, an' put my hat on my head, an' eat my breakfast as I go on tuh work. Now, ain't dat reasonable, Miss? Besides, mouths ain't so pretty nohow.

--George Brown.


One day Christ wuz going along wid His disciples an' He tole 'em all tuh pick up uh rock an' bring it along. All of 'em got one, but Peter...

Every Tongue Got to Confess. Copyright © by Zora Neale Hurston. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Reading Group Guide

Introduction Storytelling is an essential element of many cultural traditions -- especially those that have had to carve their identities in an unfriendly setting and struggle to hold their communities together. The African-American storytelling tradition is one of the strongest, yet this astonishing collection of African-American folk tales has lingered in archival obscurity for decades -- until now. In the late 1920s, with the support of Franz Boas of Columbia University, a circle of friends that included members of the Harlem Renaissance, and a wealthy patron named Charlotte Osgood Mason, Zora Neale Hurston set out to collect the folk tales of the rural south. Travelling from Florida to Alabama to Georgia and Louisiana, Hurston spoke with men and women, young and old, domestics and mine workers, housewives and jailbirds, collecting their tales word for word. She wanted to preserve a language that was unique, pure, and lasting. "I have tried to be as exact as possible. Keep to the exact dialect as closely as I could, having the story teller to tell it to me word for word as I write. This after it has been told to me off hand until I know it myself. But the writing down from the lips is to insure the correct dialect and wording so that I shall not let myself creep in unconsciously." (from the Introduction by Carla Kaplan, p. xxvii) The result of Hurston's travels is this unique and extensive volume of nearly five hundred African-American folk tales grouped in categories ranging from God Tales to Devil Tales, from John and Massa Tales to Heaven Tales and School Tales. The stories poignantly capture the colorful, pain-filled, and sometimes magical worldthat surrounded them, revealing attitudes about faith, love, family, slavery, race, and community. Yet the tales are laced with humor from which no one is spared. In one story God is accused of mistaking a white man for a Negro; in another, a watermelon is so large that when it bursts it floods the river and drowns the townsfolk; and in yet another, the devil tries to make a field of cabbage like God has done, but he can't quite get it right and ends up with a field of tobacco. Hurston's determination to capture the authentic language of "the Negro farthest down" (xxvi) is a vital contribution to African-American letters. These folktales were not just Zora Neale Hurston's first love; they paved the way for generations of African-American writers, preserving a language whose poetry thrives to this day. Questions for Discussion
  • The oral tradition is extremely important -- in fact, for many cultures it is the only way of passing on traditions, beliefs, stories, etc. How has modern life infringed upon or altered this tradition? In the media age, does oral tradition have a place in literature?
  • Many contemporary African-American authors found inspiration in Zora Neale Hurston's work. In reading these folktales, are you able to recognize their influence? And if so, can you think of any particular authors whose style recalls Hurston's?
  • What does the oral tradition lose in the translation to the written word? Do you think that Hurston succeeds in being true to the stories and storytellers in her rendering of these tales? What sort of images do you conjure about the tellers themselves?
  • Do you agree with John Edgar Wideman that "translation destroys and displaces as much as it restores and renders available" (p. xvi)? Discuss how this premise manifests itself in this collection.
  • In the Foreword, John Edgar Wideman draws a connection between African-American oral tradition, jazz, and hip hop. Do you agree with him that Zora Neale Hurston began a trend the cultural impact of which even she could not foresee?
  • In a letter to Langston Hughes, Hurston writes, "I am leaving the story material almost untouched. I have only tampered with it where the storyteller was not clear. I know it is going to read different, but that is the glory of the thing, don't you think?" (xxviii) Discuss the balancing act Hurston had to negotiate between the free flowing storytelling tradition of the rural south and her more formal academic training.
  • In her introduction, Carla Kaplan suggests that if Hurston had published this volume of folktales during her lifetime it may have "derailed" her career as a novelist. Do you agree? How do you think it would have affected her career? How would it have affected our perception of African-American literature?
  • Do you feel that the exactness of the dialect in Hurston's transcriptions -- a dialect that can often be difficult to read -- contributes to the value of these folktales as a historical document? Discuss the pros and cons of reading the folktales in the dialect they were spoken.
  • The title of this collection -- Every Tongue Got to Confess -- came from one of the Folktales, but Hurston didn't choose it. Do you think it sums up the essence of the collection? If so, how? And if not, what are some of the other titles you would propose?
  • Discuss your favorite tales in this collection. What is it about these particular stories that you especially liked? About the Author: Zora Neale Hurston was born in Notasulga, Alabama, on January 7, 1891, the fifth child of John Hurston (farmer, carpenter, and Baptist preacher) and Lucy Ann Potts (school teacher). The author of numerous books, including Their Eyes Were Watching God, Jonah's Gourd Vine, Mules and Men, and Moses, Man of the Mountain, Hurston was a novelist, anthropologist, outspoken essayist, lecturer, and theatrical producer. Hurston's finest work of fiction appeared at a time when artistic and political statements--whether single sentences or book-length fictions--were peculiarly conflated. Many works of fiction were informed by purely political motives; political pronouncements frequently appeared in polished literary prose. And Hurston's own political statements, relating to racial issues or addressing national politics, did not ingratiate her with her black male contemporaries. The outcome of the controversy was bitter for Hurston, with Their Eyes Were Watching God going out of print after an initial burst of commercial success and remaining out of print for nearly thirty years. It was only through the determined efforts of Alice Walker, Robert Hemenway (Hurston's biographer), Toni Cade Bambara, and other writers and scholars in the 1970s that all of her books are now back in print and that she has taken her rightful place in the pantheon of American authors.
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2012

    Love MS. HU Love Ms. Hurston!

    Good read if you grew up in the gulf region of the country or in parts of florida. Hard to follow if you have not read her books before or if you are not familiar with the local tongue.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2007

    A reviewer

    Many of these stories really hit home. It reminded me of the many stories told by my grandparents and great grandparents (oh, how I miss them). If you have older relatives from the South, this book makes a GREAT conversation piece and it's a good prelude to telling and hearing their old stories.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2002

    Wonderful

    I read this book as part of my book club. It was wonderful it brought back memories of my family. I can hear my praternal grandmother in her kitchen in Virginia talking. It reminds me of my maternal grandmother talking to my mother. And all the others southern black people I know. This book should be a staple in every school in America.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2002

    essential reading!

    this is a wonderful volume of folklore collected by a great american author. hurston studied anthropology at barnard and collected stories extensively in the american south and throughout central america as well. her own fiction was influenced by stories and tales just like these. one of the best discoveries in the book involves the tall tales, where readers can enjoy the old-fashioned equivalent of today's 'your mama's so fat' jokes -- from 'this man was so ugly...' to 'that pumpkin was so big.'

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2010

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews

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