Wow, there is so much love for this book out in the world and I can understand why – if only on one level. I’m no literary critic nor any kind of expert but I do appreciate lovely writing and this woman could turn a phrase easier than I can turn some warm buttery hotcakes in my morning skillet. (Hehe, see there. I’m no writer either, when comparing myself to Zora Neale Hurston.)
Eyes was published in 1937 and tells the story of Janie Starks, an African American woman living in Florida, making her way and creating a life of her own choosing in a time when black women had very little say in the course of their lives. Janie longs for love and independence and refuses to give up on these ideals throughout the story.
There is a section at the back of my book that recalls how the book was out of print for 30 or more years and there was a great effort by professors and other writers and publishers and such who worked to have the book brought back into print. Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple says, “There is no book more important to me than this one.”
It’s a period piece and a cultural piece so parts were hard for me to understand. But overall I could follow Janie’s journey. Her words and thoughts, so many times in this story, were just pure honey to my reading eyes. Here are some favorite quotes:
“Now, women forget all those things they don’t want to remember, and remember everything they don’t want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly.” – This is on page one. I admit that I didn’t really get the last part of this until I finished the book, and then reread some of these quotes.
“Janie saw her life like a great tree in leaf with the things suffered, things enjoyed, things done and undone. Dawn and doom was in the branches.
“Look lak she been livin’ through uh hundred years in January without one day of spring.”
“There is a basin in the mind where words float around on thought and thought on sound and sight. Then there is a depth of thought untouched by words, and deeper still a gulf of formless feelings untouched by thought. Nanny entered this infinity of conscious pain again on her old knees. Towards morning she muttered, “Lawd, you know mah heart. Ah done de best Ah could do. De rest is left to you.”
“She stood there until something fell off the shelf inside her. Then she went inside there to see what it was. It was her image of Jody tumbled down and shattered.”
“She got so she received all things with the stolidness of the earth which soaks up urine and perfume with the same indifference.” – Dang.
“He kin take most any lil thing and make summertime out of it when times is dull.”
I read Their Eyes Were Watching God as part of Roof Beam Reader’s 2018 TBR Pile Challenge. This book has been on my shelf a for few years and I believe I bought it at a library sale. It’s a keeper, for sure.