A valuable resource for students of Hurston’s work, and a mine for future research.

ZORA NEALE HURSTON

A LIFE IN LETTERS

Revealing selection of letters by the renowned folklorist, novelist, and essayist, capably edited by Kaplan (English/USC).

Hurston (1891–1960) was one of the most prominent African-American writers of the 1920s and ’30s, a confidante and peer of Langston Hughes, Ruth Benedict, Carl Van Vechten, Franz Boas, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, and other important intellectuals of the time. Her star fell in the ’50s, and she died in obscurity in a Florida welfare home. Rediscovered in the 1980s, her work, especially the memoir Dust Tracks on the Road (1942) and the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God (1936), is now a fixture in college courses on African-American literature, women’s studies, and folklore. Her letters add depth to Hurston’s self-portraits elsewhere, revealing her to be a complex, sometimes unpleasant figure. Of particular interest to literary scholars are: Hurston’s relationship with wealthy patron Charlotte Osgood Mason, who apparently expected a kind of fawning devotion in return for her largesse (the writer addresses her throughout as “darling godmother”); her sometimes prickly interactions with the artists of the Harlem Renaissance; and the rightward drift of her political beliefs, which, Kaplan allows, “have often baffled her admirers.” General readers may find Hurston’s broad entrepreneurial streak more compelling: at points, for instance, she importunes Langston Hughes to invest in property near her Florida home (“I can, if I choose sell to any of my friends so long as they belong to my social caste. They want no niggers in that neighborhood . . . [but] were agreeably surprised in me”) and seeks funds from Mason to develop a catering business (“I’d like you for my first client, and if I please you then I’ll write personal letters to some of the finer hostesses and try to establish myself as New York’s Chicken Specialist”).

A valuable resource for students of Hurston’s work, and a mine for future research.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-385-49035-6

Page Count: 864

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2002

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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