Zora Neale Hurston is considered one of the most controversial yet prominent figures associated with the Harlem Renaissance. This introductory study examines Hurston's contributions to that literary movement, as well as her role as mediator between the black and white worlds in which she lived. Readers will appeciate the clear presentation of the biographical facts of her life, as well as an overview of the issues and varying perceptions surrounding her literary achievements. A full chapter is devoted to analysing each of Hurston's major works of fiction: Jonah's Gourd Vine (1934), Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), Moses, Man of the Mountain (1939), Seraph on the Suwanee (1948) as well as her short fiction and her fictionalized autobiography Dust Tracks on a Road (1942). For each of the works, plot, character development, themes, setting and symbols are identified and discussed in clear accessible language. An alternate critical perspective enhances the understanding of each of Hurston's full length works. Contemporary reviews are cited in a bibliography which also helps students find further biographical and critical information on Zora Neale Hurston.
JOSIE P. CAMPBELL is Professor of English and Women's Studies at the University of Rhode Island. She is the author of John Irving: A Critical Companion (Greenwood, 1998) and Popular Culture in the Middle Ages (1986). She has written extensively on medieval and Renaissance drama, Canadian women's writing, and American Literature.