Having been forgotten, then rediscovered in a major way, it’s rare to find interviews with Zora Neale Hurston written in her time. Here’s a newspaper article in which she was interviewed as she burst on the literary scene in the 1934, when her first novel, Jonah’s Gourd Vine, was published. From The Richmond Item, Nov. 14, 1934. Of course, it contains some of the parlance and attitudes of that time.
Zora Neale Hurston: Author and Anthropologist
Spell-binding and bewitching is the personality of Zora Neale Hurston whom we met Monday. Zora Hurston is young and vibrant and spirited. And exceedingly attractive. Modishly dressed in dark green coat and red Cossack hat with a startling quill poised on the front, her bubbling enthusiasm and liveliness is the root of her fetching personality, but style and good looks add immeasurably to it. Read More→
Flannery O’Connor (1925 – 1964) was best known for her short stories that were described as “Southern Gothic.” Despite poor health she wrote every day, eventually producing two novels and more than thirty short stories in an all-too-brief career. She had a lot to say about the art of writing, the writing life, and literature. Here’s a selection of quotes.
“People without hope not only don’t write novels, but what is more to the point, they don’t read them.”
“The writer should never be ashamed of staring. There is nothing that does not require his attention.”
“Fiction is about everything human and we are made out of dust, and if you scorn getting yourself dusty, then you shouldn’t try to write fiction. It’s not a grand enough job for you.” Read More→
“Crazy for this Democracy” is a biting, tongue-in cheek essay by Zora Neale Hurston, first published in The Negro Digest, December, 1945. It was written when, after having served the country overseas to fight tyranny, black servicemen and women returned home to a land where they still didn’t have rights they’d fought for abroad. Segregation was still the rule rather than the exception in education, employment, housing, and more. Here’s a brief excerpt:
“They tell me this democracy form of government is a wonderful thing. It has freedom, equality, justice, in short, everything! Since 1937 nobody has talked about anything else.
The late Franklin D. Roosevelt sort of redecorated it, and called these United States the boastful name of “The Arsenal of Democracy.” Read More→
Nella Larsen‘s Passing focuses on two middle-class black women who reunite after a long break since their childhood friendship. Claire, one of the main characters, has light skin and passes as white to maintain her marriage. This constructs the theme of the novel.
“It’s funny about ‘passing.’ We disapprove of it and at the same time condone it. It excites our contempt and yet we rather admire it. Why shy away from it with an odd kind of revulsion, but we protect it.”
Edited and introduced by Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston‘s 1979 anthology I Love Myself: When I am Laughing … and Then Again When I am Looking Mean and Impressive provides a collection of her work that pays tribute to her intellectual and spiritual leadership within the Black community of the early 20th century.