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GO GATOR AND MUDDY THE WATER by Zora Neale Hurston

GO GATOR AND MUDDY THE WATER

Writings by Zora Neal Hurston from the Federal Writers Project

By Zora Neale Hurston

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-393-04695-8
Publisher: Norton

New work by Hurston (1889—1968), the Harlem Renaissance writer and folklorist. (Hurston’s first collection of folklore, Mules and Men, is generally considered the first such compilation by an African-American. It was followed by Tell My Horse.) During the Depression, like many writers, Hurston went to work for the Works Progress Administration. As part of the Florida Federal Writers Project, she compiled this collection of folklore, parts of which have never been published before. Bordelon, an independent scholar who recovered the manuscript while researching the FWP, contributes a biographical essay on Hurston that focuses in particular on her years with the FWP. In her proposal, reprinted here, Hurston divides Florida into four areas, with different economic, social, and cultural factors influencing local folklore, including black folk religion. “Folklore is the boiled- down juice of human living,” she writes. “Folklore in Florida is still in the making. Folk tunes, tales, and characters are still emerging from the lush place of primitive imagination before they can be finally drained by formal education and mechanical inversions.” This volume represents part of Hurston’s effort to capture that critical momoent in the development of black folklore, which included the creation of a new prison folk hero, Daddy Mention.