Black Spec Fic Primer–Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston* (1891-1960)

A quintessential literary figure of the Harlem Renaissance, Hurston  is probably most well-known for the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God.  She was also a cultural anthropologist who published two collections of African American and Caribbean folklore, Mules and Men (1935) and Tell My Horse (1938) respectively, that include extensive sections on voodoo/hoodoo.

It is no wonder that this interest in the folklore and spiritual tradition found its way into at least one Hurston’s major works, namely Moses, Man of the Mountain (1939), which contains some major speculative elements.  In the novel, Hurston recasts the biblical figure Moses as a hoodoo man and a powerful magician.  She mixes biblical lore with African American folklore that incorporated aspects of the Moses narrative.   Hurston’s writing, to a much lesser extent than some of her contemporaries, does not advance the common political agenda of the time but stems from her interest in documenting African American and African diasporic folk ways in order to preserve them.

*I acknowledge that some may quibble with me for putting Hurston on this list.

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