Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston : A Biography of the Spirit

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While most biographies of Hurston take a standard approach to revealing the facts and details of her life, this is the first to look at the role spirituality played in her life and letters. Throughout her fiction, nonfiction, political and social activity, Hurston's spirit shines through, animating all areas of her life. To ignore it is to paint an incomplete picture of a life that carries on through the works she left behind. Plant shows here that Hurston's spirituality helped her to endure the challenges in her life, including chronic ill health, personal and professional setbacks, financial difficulties, and other obstacles that might have crushed a less resilient soul. In revealing this often overlooked area of Hurston's life, Plant offers a more complete biography of this eminent woman of letters.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 264 pages
  • 153 x 232 x 17mm | 408g
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 1442206128
  • 9781442206120
  • 1,687,206

Table of contents

1 Series Foreword 2 Introduction 3 One: The Essence of Things 4 Two: The Pathless Path 5 Three: ''A Genius of the South'': An American Genius 6 Four: ''Coming Out More Than Conquer'': Spirituality, Empowerment, Freedom, and Peace 7 Five: Who Was Herod and What Made Him Great? 8 Six: Ancestral Spirit 9 Conclusion: Sankofa
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Review quote

Plant relies on previous biographies as well as interviews and correspondence with Hurston's friends and colleagues, to offer a portrait of a woman with an eclectic and searching sense of the spiritual in everyday life. Plant also explores the religious images in Hurston's work, the characters based on her own father, a preacher, and Hurston's understanding of the Baptist Church as well as other beliefs, including the voodoo practices of the West Indies. Hurston's appreciations of the transcendent in common people, her curiosity, and her own self awareness blended into an appreciation of the soul source that guided her life and her work. This is a compelling look at another side of one of the most significant literary figures of the Harlem Renaissance and American literature. * Booklist * A biography of writer Zora Neale Hurston, this volume focuses on her spirituality as a driving force and how it was reflected in her academic career, fiction and nonfiction, sociopolitical activity, and professional career. Plant (Africana studies, U. of South Florida) also discusses her spiritual legacy in institutions, works, curricula, performances, and festivals created in Hurston's honor. She considers her spiritual views and beliefs and her life and career in this context, drawing on Akasha Gloria Hull's concept of spirituality as containing the following aspects as a means for taking part in struggle: political and social awareness, eclectic spiritual consciousness, and enhanced creativity. The volume is for both general readers and scholars. * Reference and Research Book News * Plant . . . adds new dimension to the body of biographical literature already published, earnestly portraying Hurston's vitality and spirituality, characteristics that enabled her to achieve innumerable accomplishments. . . . An inspiring read recommended for all libraries. * Library Journal * [This work] concentrates more on Hurston's art and less on her life than does Valerie Boyd's Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston (2003). Plant's approach, which is accessible without being simplistic, complements that of Carla Kaplan in her eponymous edited collection of Hurston's letters (2003). Plant vaults between levels of formality, but this ingenious method bears fascinating fruit in her bravura account of the plot of Their Eyes Were Watching God, told, as in the novel, from Janie Crawford's point of view. Plant takes particular note of Hurston's unpublished work on Herod the Great, long neglected by Hurston scholars. Though her treatment of that work is a bit diffuse, Plant convincingly demonstrates the Herod project's pertinence, particularly in any revision of Hurston's later years. Plant's explanation of Hurston's alleged improvidence-that she believed money was to be spent to gain experience-gives insight into Hurston's creative soul. Also valuable are Plant's interviews of readers and advocates of Hurston's work, material that shows the reader why Hurston still resonates in the 21st century. Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and general readers. * CHOICE * In her new study, Zora Neale Hurston: A Biography of the Spirit, Deborah Plant conjures up a new vision of Hurston, complementing existing biographies by offering a mapping of the writer's spiritual and artistic vision. Interbraiding known facts with new readings and a shrewd understanding of Hurston's philosophical, religious, and intellectual bricolage, Plant's eloquent and convincing study reminds us of the complexity, curiosity, and boundless energy of this protean writer, who now, more than ever occupies the vital center of African American, women's, Southern, and national literatures. -- John Lowe, Robert Penn Warren Professor of English and Compa, Robert Penn Warren Professor of English and Compa Dr. Plant continues to exhibit her profound and thorough understanding of the complete Zora Neale Hurston and with this, her most recent publication, has established herself as the national foremost Hurston scholar. -- Lucy Anne Hurston, Hurston Research LLC In this compelling literary biography, Deborah Plant offers new insight into that powerful foremother of modern black women writers, Zora Neale Hurston. Drawing on and synthesizing the work of previous chroniclers of Hurston's life, Plant delineates Hurston's spiritual resistance to and triumphs over the material and social obstacles that have often defeated less heroic individuals. Plant focuses Hurston's life and work through the lens of her spirituality. The result is an original and nuanced study of the many facets of Hurston's life and career-fiction writer, anthropologist, political analyst-which will delight readers and become a mainstay of future Hurston scholarship. -- Virginia C. Fowler, Virginia Tech
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About Deborah G. Plant

Deborah G. Plant is associate professor and chair of the Department of Africana Studies at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida. She is author of Every Tub Must Sit on its Own Bottom: The Philosophy and Politics of Zora Neale Hurston.
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