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3

Their Eyes Were Watching God: What Does Soulful Mean?

3
terms
4
notes

Smith, Z. (2009). Their Eyes Were Watching God: What Does Soulful Mean?. In Smith, Z. Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays. The Penguin Press HC, pp. 3-13

(adjective) lacking facility in reading and writing and ignorant of the knowledge to be gained from books / (adjective) illiterate / (adjective) not marked with letters

5

In the mouths of unlettered people she finds the bliss of quotidian metaphor:

I don't think I've seen this word used before but the meaning is pretty clear

—p.5 by Zadie Smith
notable
3 years, 3 months ago

In the mouths of unlettered people she finds the bliss of quotidian metaphor:

I don't think I've seen this word used before but the meaning is pretty clear

—p.5 by Zadie Smith
notable
3 years, 3 months ago
6

Above all, I had to let go of my objection to the love tribulations of women. The story of Janie's progress through three marriages confronts the reader with the significant idea that the choice one makes between partners, between one man and another (or one woman and another) stretches beyond romance. Is it, in the end, the choice between values, possibilities, futures, hopes, arguments (shared concepts that fit the world as you experience it), languages (shared words that fit the world as you believe it to be) and lives. [...]

—p.6 by Zadie Smith 3 years, 3 months ago

Above all, I had to let go of my objection to the love tribulations of women. The story of Janie's progress through three marriages confronts the reader with the significant idea that the choice one makes between partners, between one man and another (or one woman and another) stretches beyond romance. Is it, in the end, the choice between values, possibilities, futures, hopes, arguments (shared concepts that fit the world as you experience it), languages (shared words that fit the world as you believe it to be) and lives. [...]

—p.6 by Zadie Smith 3 years, 3 months ago

(noun) politics based on practical and material factors rather than on theoretical or ethical objectives

6

she rejects the realpolitik of her grandmother

thought it had Soviet connotations for some reason

—p.6 by Zadie Smith
confirm
3 years, 3 months ago

she rejects the realpolitik of her grandmother

thought it had Soviet connotations for some reason

—p.6 by Zadie Smith
confirm
3 years, 3 months ago
9

[...] It is not the Black Female Literary Tradition that makes Hurston great. It is Hurston herself. Zora Neale Hurston--capable of expressing human vulnerability as well as its strength, lyrical without sentiment, romantic and yet rigorous and one of the few truly eloquent writers of sex--is as exceptional among black women writers as Tolstoy is among white male writers.

[...] one wants to make a neutral and solid case for her greatnes, to say something more substantial than "She is my sister and I love her." As a reader, I want to claim fellowship with "good writing" without limits; to be able to say that Hurston is my sister and Baldwin is my brother, and so is Kafka my brother, and Nabokov, and Woolf my sister, and Eliot and Ozick. Like all readers, I want my limits to be drawn by my sensibilities, not by my melanin count. [...]

—p.9 by Zadie Smith 3 years, 3 months ago

[...] It is not the Black Female Literary Tradition that makes Hurston great. It is Hurston herself. Zora Neale Hurston--capable of expressing human vulnerability as well as its strength, lyrical without sentiment, romantic and yet rigorous and one of the few truly eloquent writers of sex--is as exceptional among black women writers as Tolstoy is among white male writers.

[...] one wants to make a neutral and solid case for her greatnes, to say something more substantial than "She is my sister and I love her." As a reader, I want to claim fellowship with "good writing" without limits; to be able to say that Hurston is my sister and Baldwin is my brother, and so is Kafka my brother, and Nabokov, and Woolf my sister, and Eliot and Ozick. Like all readers, I want my limits to be drawn by my sensibilities, not by my melanin count. [...]

—p.9 by Zadie Smith 3 years, 3 months ago

(adjective) lacking facility in reading and writing and ignorant of the knowledge to be gained from books / (adjective) illiterate / (adjective) not marked with letters

10

In 1937, black readers were embarrassed by the unlettered nature of the dialogue

—p.10 by Zadie Smith
notable
3 years, 3 months ago

In 1937, black readers were embarrassed by the unlettered nature of the dialogue

—p.10 by Zadie Smith
notable
3 years, 3 months ago
11

[...] "Blackness", as she understood it and wrote about it, is as natural and inevitable and complete to her as, say, "Frenchness" is to Flaubert. It is also as complicated, as full of blessings and curses. One can be no more removed from it than from one's arm, but it is no more the total measure of one's being than an arm is.

on Zora Neale Hurston

—p.11 by Zadie Smith 3 years, 3 months ago

[...] "Blackness", as she understood it and wrote about it, is as natural and inevitable and complete to her as, say, "Frenchness" is to Flaubert. It is also as complicated, as full of blessings and curses. One can be no more removed from it than from one's arm, but it is no more the total measure of one's being than an arm is.

on Zora Neale Hurston

—p.11 by Zadie Smith 3 years, 3 months ago
12

[...] In the high style, one's loves never seem partial or personal, or even like "loves", because white novelists are not white novelists but simply "novelists," and white characters are not white characters but simply "human," and criticism of both is not partial or personal but a matter of aesthetics. Such critics will always sound like the neutral universal, and the black woman who have championed Their Eyes Were Watching God in the past, and the one doing so now, will seem like black women talking about a black book. When I began this piece, it felt important to distance myself from that idea. By doing so, I misrepresent a vital aspect of my response to this book, one that is entirely personal, as any response to a novel shall be. Fact is, I am a black woman, and a slither of this book goes straight into my soul, I suspect, for that reason. And though it is, to me, a mistake to say, "Unless you are a black woman, you will never fully comprehend this novel," it is also disingenous to claim that many black women do not respond to this book in a particularly powerful manner that would seem "extraliterary." Those aspects of Their Eyes Were Watching God that plumb so profoundly the ancient buildup of cultural residue that is (for convenience's sake) called "Blackness" are the parts that my own "Blackness," as far as it goes, cannot help but respond to personally. At fourteen I couldn't find words (or words I liked) for the marvelous feeling of recognition that came with these characters who had my hair, my eyes, my skin, even the ancestors of the rhythm of my speech. These forms of identification are so natural to white readers--(Of course Rabbit Angstrom is like me! Of course Madame Bovary is like me!)--that they believe themselves above personal identification, or at least believe that they are identifying only at the highest, existential levels (His soul is like my soul. He is human; I am human). White readers often believe they are colorbind. I always thought I was a colorblind reader--until I read this novel, and that ultimate cliché of black life that is inscribed in the word soulful took on new weight and sense for me. [...]

—p.12 by Zadie Smith 3 years, 3 months ago

[...] In the high style, one's loves never seem partial or personal, or even like "loves", because white novelists are not white novelists but simply "novelists," and white characters are not white characters but simply "human," and criticism of both is not partial or personal but a matter of aesthetics. Such critics will always sound like the neutral universal, and the black woman who have championed Their Eyes Were Watching God in the past, and the one doing so now, will seem like black women talking about a black book. When I began this piece, it felt important to distance myself from that idea. By doing so, I misrepresent a vital aspect of my response to this book, one that is entirely personal, as any response to a novel shall be. Fact is, I am a black woman, and a slither of this book goes straight into my soul, I suspect, for that reason. And though it is, to me, a mistake to say, "Unless you are a black woman, you will never fully comprehend this novel," it is also disingenous to claim that many black women do not respond to this book in a particularly powerful manner that would seem "extraliterary." Those aspects of Their Eyes Were Watching God that plumb so profoundly the ancient buildup of cultural residue that is (for convenience's sake) called "Blackness" are the parts that my own "Blackness," as far as it goes, cannot help but respond to personally. At fourteen I couldn't find words (or words I liked) for the marvelous feeling of recognition that came with these characters who had my hair, my eyes, my skin, even the ancestors of the rhythm of my speech. These forms of identification are so natural to white readers--(Of course Rabbit Angstrom is like me! Of course Madame Bovary is like me!)--that they believe themselves above personal identification, or at least believe that they are identifying only at the highest, existential levels (His soul is like my soul. He is human; I am human). White readers often believe they are colorbind. I always thought I was a colorblind reader--until I read this novel, and that ultimate cliché of black life that is inscribed in the word soulful took on new weight and sense for me. [...]

—p.12 by Zadie Smith 3 years, 3 months ago