(Review) Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Publisher and Publication Date: Harper Perennial Modern Classics. 2013. First published in 1937.
Genre: Fiction. Women and literature. African American literature. Classic literature. Romance. Relationships between men and women.
Pages: The story has 219 pages. An additional 40 pages for the “Foreword”, “Afterword”, 2 bibliographies, “Chronology”, “P.S.” section, and an excerpt of Barracoon.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of women and literature. Readers of classic literature.
Rating: Excellent.

PBS Great American Read Top 100 Pick

Christian Book link
Abe Books link
Amazon link

Zora Neale Hurston, 1891-1960

Their Eyes Were Watching God is the story of Janie Crawford. She is a light-skinned African American woman living in a rural area of Florida. The time period is the early 20th century. She is raised by her maternal grandmother. The first part of her life is determined by her grandmother and first husband. Then, like a sudden direction change in the wind, Janie is married to another man who takes control of her life. Later, Janie’s life take a different direction.

My Thoughts:
Janie is independent, rebellious, bold, and resilient. She is a person who ponders. She is a person who makes up her mind about a decision and moves forward with determination.
I enjoyed reading the “Foreword” by Edwidge Danticat. It provided well thought-out questions and answers about the story itself. Also, Janie’s choices versus women of this era’s choices. And, has she been a solid “role model for women” and “is this important?”
Their Eyes Were Watching God is a character driven narrative. Janie is a character that provides through her thoughts, attitude, words, behavior, and actions everything needed to make the story dramatic and memorable.
The narrative structure is chronological. The story begins when Janie is a child and progresses to midlife.
This story is less about “what is going to happen next” and more about how Janie is transforming as a person.
This is a story that is full of things to review. It’s a story heavy with further conversations. It is a book highly worthy of a book club.

Questions I have about the story:
~If Janie had children would she have made the same choices?
~Did Janie (at some point) understand her grandmother’s reasoning?
~Why did she tolerate certain behavior from one husband, but not the other husband?

Further Thoughts:
The dialogue is difficult for some readers. They become bogged down in the southern sayings, dialect, and accent. It’s best to read through the dialogue quickly and don’t stop to try and enunciate each word.
The story has author contributions. For example, the behind the scenes information and wise observations.
The story is filled with beautiful quotes. The opening line is beautiful, poetic, and memorable.

Their Eyes Were Watching God is a story that provokes my mind and heart. The choices I have made. The experiences I have had. And, my response to those.

Their Eyes Were Watching God is now a favorite book of mine. It’s a story I treasure.

(Review) The Iliad by Homer, A New Translation by Caroline Alexander

Publisher and Publication Date: Ecco. 2016. Paperback edition.
Genre: Greek mythology.
Pages: 608.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers who love the classics. Readers of Greek mythology.
Rating: Excellent.

Original title: Ιλιάς

This is the first book to contribute to my list of The Classics Club. My goal is to read 50 classics in five years.
On a sidebar widget on this blog there is a photo of old books. Clicking on that photo will take you to the list of books I plan to read. However, the list is a living list-meaning it can change!

Amazon link

Links for further information:
Ancient History Encyclopedia

Image is from the Iliad, Book VIII, lines 245-253.

The Iliad is an ancient Greek epic poem. It was written in the 8th century BCE. Homer is considered the author.
It is the story of the last year of the ten year Trojan War. The time span for the poem covers several weeks.
The two groups fighting are the Achaeans or Greeks and the Trojans of Troy or Ilion.
The war began, because Paris (a son of King Priam of Troy) abducted Helen of Sparta, the wife of King Menelaus of Sparta. Menelaus and his brother, King Agamemnon of Mycenae, and their armies descend on Troy for revenge.
Achilles is the greatest warrior of the Greeks. He is a demi-god. His parents are Nereid Thetis (a sea nymph) and Peleus, King of Phthia.
Hector is the greatest warrior of the Trojans. He is the eldest son of King Priam.
The true history of the Trojan War began in the late Bronze Age, probably 1200 BCE. Homer’s epic poem is not to be taken as factual history. It is a form of literature, more like a legend. It’s an oral poem. It is written in 24 books.
Some of the characters are: Achilles, Ajax, Patroclus, Menelaus, Agamemnon, Priam, Hector, Andromache, Helen, Aphrodite, Apollo, Athena, and Zeus.
The poem begins with an argument between Achilles and Agamemnon. Achilles wants Agamemnon to return the priest’s daughter who was taken captive. Agamemnon doesn’t want to return the girl. He prefers her to his wife at home.
Achilles is the principle character throughout The Iliad. The spotlight will include Hector and other characters, but Achilles is the dominant focus.

My Thoughts:
The Iliad is a story you will want to take notes.
Some examples of notes:
~The change of names, Paris is called Alexandros at times.
~Making a list of expressions: “swift-footed Achilles,” “silver-footed Thetis,”
and “of the lovely cheeks.” The last example is referring to multiple women.
~The gods and the mortals they prefer.
~The gods and their human qualities.
~A list of women abducted.

The introduction is interesting. I enjoyed learning about the text, history surrounding the story, Mycenaean culture and history, the city of Troy, oral poetry, battle scenes; and relationships between men, and between men and women.

The Iliad is a sad story. Some of the characters know they will die. The war is lengthy (ten years), and the men are tired and wonder if the war has been worth it. The response of Achilles after Patroclus’s death is heartbreaking.
Hector has a family. What will happen to them after his death? This answer is not included in the story. The Iliad doesn’t tell this part. It also doesn’t tell the story of Achilles’s death.
The Iliad is gruesome, but war is gruesome.
How does Helen feel about what happened to her? Her voice is a deep cry at the end. Helen says, “would that I had died before.”

Death of Hector. Painting by Peter Paul Rubens.

The Classics Club

I attempted this challenge several years ago and almost made the goal of reading 50 books in 5 years. Life happened. I’m starting again.
The Classics Club began in 2012. The club’s emphasis is to encourage people to read the classics. If you are interested, this is the link for more information about the club: Club FAQS.

I began reading for this challenge on May 2, 2020. I plan to finish reading the 50 classics by May 2, 2025. This is a living list, not a strict list of books.
*I might change what I’ll be reading.

My Classics list:
1. The Iliad by Homer, a new translation by Caroline Alexander
2. The Odyssey by Homer, translated by Robert Fagles (reread)
3. The Aeneid by Virgil
4. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
5. The Inferno by Dante Alighieri
6. Anne of Green Gables (reread) by L. M. Montgomery
7. Herodotus-The Histories
8. Complete Poetical Works by George Herbert
9. Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers; The Necessity Nature, and Means of it by John Owen
10. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
11. Eleanor Roosevelt’s book, You Learn by Living
12. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
13. Curious, if True Strange Tales by Elizabeth Gaskell
14. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams Bianco
15. Memoir of Jane Austen by James Austen Leigh (a reread)
16. Agatha Christie, an Autobiography
17. The Complete Works of George MacDonald
18. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
19. The Metamorphoses by Ovid
20. The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
21. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
22. Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
23. Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
24. Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
25. The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy (reread)
26. The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
27. The Trumpet Major by Thomas Hardy
28. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
29. Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
30. Villette by Charlotte Bronte (reread)
31. Shirley by Charlotte Bronte
32. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
33. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
34. All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
35. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty
36. True Grit by Charles Portis
37. Watership Down by Richard Adams
38. The Count of Monte Christo by Alexander Dumas
39. The Brothers Karamazov  by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
40. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
41. Two Years Before The Mast by Richard Henry Dana, Jr.
42. Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling
43. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
44. The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare
45. A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
46. Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
47. Richard III by William Shakespeare
48. Henry V by William Shakespeare
49. Henry VI by William Shakespeare
50. The Tempest by William Shakespeare