Zora Neale Hurston: An Annotated Bibliography and Reference Guide.
Just as Zora Neale Hurston remained prolific during her careers as a fiction writer, folklorist, essayist, critic, and playwright, the critical, biographical, and other literature examining Hurston's work has continued to proliferate since Alice Walker reclaimed her literary foremother in the 1970s. Following Walker, many other authors and scholars began displaying their fascination with the work for which Hurston had been known before her death in 1960, particularly her second novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, published in 1937. With the 1977 publication of Zora Neale Hurston, the biography by Robert Hemenway, a full-scale revival movement, which continued to burgeon during the 1980s, reached a plateau during the '90s. This trend in Hurston studies is documented in the annotated bibliography compiled by Rose Parkman Davis, which takes as its assumption a need on the part of students and researchers for "a comprehensive, up-to-date reference guide to the scholarship related to one of America's foremost wr iters," as Davis states in her preface. Harnessing the wave at its crests, Davis's bibliography captures the volume of scholarly work pertaining to Hurston, the variation in approaches, and the logic of patterns that persist in Hurston studies.
Two indices provide clues to the book's efficiency. One is organized by author (i.e., critic) and the other by topic (including some authors). Divided into sections, the volume surveys books, dissertations and theses, chapters, journal articles, reviews, bibliographies and indices, biographical information, anthologies including Hurston's work, and children's literature. Readers will be pleased to find that entries are explicit and clearly written. Specific topics, such as autobiography or dialect, are indexed with precision, which allows for ready access to sources in all genres that either include the topic in the title or refer directly to it. The topical format helps give an idea of the wide range of perspectives in a variety of disciplines that inform Hurston studies. In the summaries, book-length works discussing Hurston or her work in at least one chapter are given equal treatment with works devoted exclusively to her, which helps to give a sense of the impact of Hurston studies.
As with any annotated bibliography, the question inevitably arises as to how reliable the descriptions are, and here is where the reader should be cautioned to reserve judgment for him- or herself when trying to gauge the worth of a source. Descriptions are uneven in terms of depth. For the most part the summaries are conservative estimations of the content of particular selections. Although the reader will get ample information about what sources are available, the information is free from evaluation.
Minor flaws such as verbatim repetitions of entries or occasional omissions do not present obstacles to finding desirable information. Included in the appendices are listings of media and World Wide Web sources. The media sources are not comprehensive, while the World Wide Web sites are not always definitive enough to make for more productive results than a Web search on your own browser could provide, and since Web sites are in flux, the ones in Davis's bibliography may represent only a starting point. Finally, the chronological listing of Hurston's published writing serves as a guide for non-specialists, but the inclusion of forthcoming titles, particularly those without projected dates, may unnecessarily frustrate the hopeful.
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|Publication:||African American Review|
|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2000|
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