Some new information is occasionally being ferreted out that may help to cast additional light on some of these issues, but quite clearly Zora Neale Hurston will remain something of an enigma - too complex a figure to reach any easy conclusions about, except perhaps that she defies simple characterization. People responded to her (and still do) very emotionally: her detractors despise her bitterly; her defenders love her passionately. All agree that she was eccentric, colorful, entertaining, humorous, and unforgettable.

Perhaps the most crucial question to pose about her is why one of the most important figures in the Harlem Renaissance, the most prominent and productive black folklorist on the scene, the most prolific black female writer that this country had ever produced, one of the most widely known and honored black writers of her time, and one of the most influential authors on contemporary literature (Ernest Gaines asserts, "Probably the only black writer who has influenced my work is Zora Neale Hurston" [Essence, July 1975]) was ignored for so long a period by scholars, critics, anthologizers, and the American reading public. Some of the essays discussed herein consider just that question, and certainly this study attests that the problem is being attacked. The enthusiasm and the dedication of the Hurston scholars that began cropping up in the seventies promise that she will no longer be ignored.

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Publisher Statement

Copyright © 1983 Greenwood Press. This chapter first appeared in American Women Writers: Bibliographical Essays.

Please note that downloads of the book chapter are for private/personal use only.

Purchase online at Greenwood Press.