Sunday, April 23, 2017

T - Mark Twain/ Zora Neale Hurston

Louisa Mae Alcott spurred writers such as Helen Hooven Santmeyer to become writers.

File:Twain1909.jpgMark Twain was my original inspiration. Twain was part of my education. I read his books before they were assigned. I think the humbleness of his origins as well as the earthiness of his writing related to me as a child. It had that ring of truth that resonated. The shrewdness and mischievousness of Tom Sawyer convincing other children to whitewash a fence for him. I wished I was that smart.

When Samuel Clemens autobiography became available 100 years after his death, I ordered it and paid full price. I've yet to seriously read it. You have to make time for what is important. He postponed publishing his biography until 100 years after his death in 1910. Mark Twain's birth and death are famous in that both coincided with Haley's comet 75 year cycle swinging by the Earth.

Samuel Clemens spent a great deal of time touring and writing to cover debts due losses from bad investments in the technology of the day. He had a strong and enduring friendship with Nicoli Tesla. A friend, Henry Rogers, began to manage Twain's money and Twain became solvent as a result.

Twain's views on society changed and became increasingly cynical as he aged. Becoming more aged, I can understand that too. Life was cheerier when I understood less or was too busy to notice.
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Hurston-Zora-Neale-LOC.jpgZora Neale Hurston wrote "And Their Eyes Were Watching God" in 8 days which is a remarkable feat when you look at the quality and merit of the book. One line that stood out to me was the comparison of a black woman having a white woman's hair like the string that bound a ham had ham qualities. The aspect of a woman's value with being attractive and that a black woman feeling like she had to look white to be attractive; two sides of a very ugly coin in our country's past and present.

Zora Neale Hurston was never paid in a comparable amount as her contemporaries. Hurston worked as a freelance writer, anthropologist and wrote short stories, plays. She was educated at Howard, Barnard and Columbia. During the later portion of her life, Thurston had to scrape by a living.

Her work was obscure in that her heavy use of dialect put some people off her folklore style. People living through difficult situations and a living history of that era is what appealed to me. Some of her opinions were not popular; but, considering the treatment of African Americans when she lived, criticism is a moot point. Hurston died in 1960 before the Civil Right's Movement brought significant changes for black Americans.

Hurston's work saw a revival in 1975, fifteen years after her death, due to writer Alice Walker writing an article in Ms. magazine.  Walker identified Hurston's unmarked grave and had a marker placed with the words, "A Genius of the South" there.

19 comments:

  1. Mark Twain speaks to so many of us. Some of his work on the topic of war is particularly pertinent - and he did humour superbly.
    I was given his autobiography and am ashamed to admit that the sheer weight of it means it is still sitting in my unread tower. As you know I don't mean literary weight but just the size of it. I cannot hold anything that heavy for long. Some day. Soon.

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    1. A reading podium is what you need. I don't know how comfortable it would be to be bent over though. I hope you get a long remission soon. The day to day aspect of MS is not for the feint of heart.

      Tragedy and comedy do go hand to hand.

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  2. Hi Ann - Twain does speak to many doesn't he - but reading about Nora Zeale Hurston really adds to our knowledge - she must have been formidable, but so interesting ... I must keep an eye open for further information on her - thanks for bringing her to our attention ... cheers Hilary

    http://positiveletters.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/t-is-for-turkey.html

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    1. Perhaps I should have lived in the 1800s or early 1900s, I like the writing so much. But I don't think I could have endured the wars and difficulties of those times.

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  3. We all get more cynical, I think. Twain did certainly have a way with words. Tom Sawyer was one of the few 'classics' that I actually enjoyed reading as a kid.
    Discarded Darlings - Jean Davis, Speculative Fiction Writer, A to Z: Editing Fiction

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    1. My favorite was "The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County". I can see why he was a like a "rock star" of his day.

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  4. I read twain early in my life. My mother took me to a used good s store and let me roam the books and I got him from her suggestion that I would like him.

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    1. Used books, pre-selected is what I call them. There are so many prizes in them.

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  5. Twain sure knew how to add a touch of humor when need be

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    1. Humor does indicate troubles, eh. I can see why he became more bitter.

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  6. Hurston's work sounds like something to put on my TBR list. Thanks for the info.

    T is for the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis

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    1. You would not regret it. Plus, it is a nice thin volume. I know that is sacrilegious for the serious reader. But, you will be too busy sleeping I understand if you kids get abducted by aliens.

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  7. Mark Twain had so much common sense it seemed. Hurston is someone I never heard of but sounds like an amazing brilliant woman.

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    1. Hurston was a literary genius. Her work is well worth the read and worth a dozen Harry Potters.

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  8. In what you said about each, I see similarities between them. Both wrote in a voice true to their heritage, both were opinionated, etc.
    Perspectives at Life & Faith in Caneyhead

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    1. Good observation, but it is true there is an honesty with both of them.

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  9. I had no idea that Hurston used to work as a freelance writer. This speaks a lot about the inequality at that time. I'm so glad Alice Walker took the time to remember her and that Zora's work is still alive today.
    T is for terrific actress
    http://theglobaldig.blogspot.com/2017/04/u-is-for-unbelievable-actress.html

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    1. So true about inequality, even today I feel humbled that very talented writers find themselves working at retail, etc to make ends meet.

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  10. Zora Neale Hurston... I wonder if I'd know that name now if she'd been born white and a man.

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