Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Celebrate Classic Literature: THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD by Zora Neale Hurston & THE GOLDEN NOTEBOOK by Doris Lessing

The year 2012 marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston and the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing.

Under "a blossoming pear tree" in West Florida, 16-year-old Janie Mae Crawford dreams of a world that will answer all her questions and waits "for the world to be made." But her grandmother, who has raised her from birth, arranges Janie’s marriage to the older local farmer. So begins Janie’s extraordinary journey through trial and redemption. Their Eyes Were Watching God is a poetic love story, rooted in black folk traditions and steeped in mythic realism that boldly celebrates African-American culture and heritage.

Some of your students may have trouble understanding the dialect of Their Eyes Were Watching God. We suggest that you may find it helpful to play all or part of the audio recording, read by the legendary actress Ruby Dee, to your class.

"There is no book more important to me than this one."—Alice Walker

In Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing's landmark novel The Golden Notebook, Anna is a successful writer who meticulously keeps four notebooks. In a black one she reviews the African experience of her youth. In a red one she records her political life, including her disillusionment with Communism. In a yellow one she writes a novel where the heroine mirrors her own life, and in a blue one she keeps a personal diary. In love with an American writer and on the threshold of insanity, Anna attempts to bring the contents of all four journals together in a golden notebook.

Praise for The Golden Notebook:

"The Golden Notebook is Doris Lessing’s most important work and has left its mark upon the ideas and feelings of a whole generation of women."—New York Times Book Review