Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Their Eyes Were Watching God

[By Kenton Rambsy]

Yesterday, I posted on what I have learned from Wikipedia about Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. Over the past few years, numerous studies have been performed that examine validity of Wikipedia as a legitimate source.

My intentions of these posts is involves more than the credibility of the site, but instead, I am wondering how Wikipedia shapes the impressions of black writing. Today, I have chosen to write about my findings from Wikipedia on Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. Since many people access the free Encyclopedia, my interest in Wikipedia stems from a yearning to understand how the site presents black writers and their novels (especially those in our "100 Novels Collection") to larger reading audiences.

What I learned about Their Eyes Were Watching God from Wikipedia

  • I learned Time Magazine included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005
  • I learned that the novel is set in central and southern Florida in the early 20th century
  • I found out that J.B. Lippincott originally published the novel
  • I found out the plot summary of the novel and names of the major characters
  • I found out Richard Wright called Their Eyes Were Watching God a "minstrel-show turn that makes the white folks laugh" and said it showed "no desire whatever to move in the direction of serious fiction."
  • I learned that Ralph Ellison said the book contained a "blight of calculated burlesque."
  • I learned that in 1983, the graduate repertory Hilberry Theater at Wayne State University produced "To Gleam It Around, To Show My Shine," which is based upon Their Eyes Were Watching God.
  • I learned that in 2005, the novel was adapted into a television movie of the same name starring Halle Berry and Michael Ealy.
  • I learned that Oprah Winfrey was also involved in this production (Similar to Richard Wright’s Native Son and Alice Walker’s The Color Purple) by serving as the producer for the made-for-TV film.
  • I learned that in 2011, the novel was adapted into a radio play for BBC World Drama, dramatized by Patricia Cumper.
[Related: 30 Days of 100 Novels]


  1. I really want to read Richard Wright"s review of Their Eyes Were Watching God. I wonder if he and Hurston had bad blood between them.

    1. Below, I provided a link to Wright's review of Hurston's novel. Check it out in your spare time. It's rather short. Also, thanks for commenting. I'm happy you're coming helping us extend our conversations about black writing.


  2. Oh Lord. I just realized that I have to read Their Eyes Were Watching God again in order to have anything intelligent to say about Wright's review. As it is I have enough to read. Man, stop trying to pull people into your booky world!