Cover image for Every tongue got to confess : Negro folk-tales from the Gulf states
Title:
Every tongue got to confess : Negro folk-tales from the Gulf states
Author:
Hurston, Zora Neale.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins Publishers, [2001]

©2001
Physical Description:
xxxiv, 279 pages ; 25 cm
Language:
English
Added Author:
ISBN:
9780060188931
Format :
Book

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Central Library GR111.A47 H83 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Central Library GR111.A47 H83 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Central Library GR111.A47 H83 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Central Library GR111.A47 H83 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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East Delavan Branch Library GR111.A47 H83 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Frank E. Merriweather Library GR111.A47 H83 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Frank E. Merriweather Library GR111.A47 H83 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Black History Non-Circ
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Summary

Summary

"Imagine the situations in which these speech acts occur. Recall a front stoop, juke joint, funeral, wedding, barbershop, kitchen: the music, noise, communal energy, and release. Dream. Participate the way you do when you allow a song to transport you, all kinds of songs, from hip-hop rap to Bach to Monk, each bearing its different history of sounds and silences."

-- From the Foreword by John Edgar Wideman

African-American folklore was Zora Neale Hurston's first love. Collected in the late 1920s, Every Tongue Got to Confess is the third volume of folk-tales from the celebrated author of Their Eyes Were Watching God. It is published here for the first time.

These hilarious, bittersweet, often saucy folk-tales -- some of which date back to the Civil War -- provide a fascinating, verdant slice of African-American life in the rural South at the turn of the twentieth century. Arranged according to subject -- from God Tales, Preacher Tales, and Devil Tales to Heaven Tales, White-Folk Tales, and Mistaken Identity Tales -- they reveal attitudes about slavery, faith, race relations, family, and romance that have been passed on for generations. They capture the heart and soul of the vital, independent, and creative community that so inspired Zora Neale Hurston.

In the foreword, author John Edgar Wideman discusses the impact of Hurston's pioneering effort to preserve the African-American oral tradition and shows readers how to read these folk tales in the historical and literary context that has -- and has not -- changed over the years. And in the introduction, Hurston scholar Carla Kaplan explains how these folk-tales were collected, lost, and found, and examines their profound significance today.

In Every Tongue Got to Confess, Zora Neale Hurston records, with uncanny precision, the voices of ordinary people and pays tribute to the richness of Black vernacular -- its crisp self-awareness, singular wit, and improvisational wordplay. These folk-tales reflect the joys and sorrows of the African-American experience, celebrate the redemptive power of storytelling, and showcase the continuous presence in America of an Africanized language that flourishes to this day.


Author Notes

Zora Neale Hurston was born in 1901 in Eatonville, Fla. She left home at the age of 17, finished high school in Baltimore, and went on to study at Howard University, Barnard College, and Columbia University before becoming one of the most prolific writers in the Harlem Renaissance.

Her works included novels, essays, plays, and studies in folklore and anthropology. Her most productive years were the 1930s and early 1940s. It was during those years that she wrote her autobiography Dust Tracks on a Road, worked with the Federal Writers Project in Florida, received a Guggenheim fellowship, and wrote four novels. She is most remembered for her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, published in 1937.

She died penniless and in obscurity in 1960 and was buried in an unmarked grave. In 1973, her grave was rediscovered and marked and her novels and autobiography have since been reprinted.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Hurston's deep fascination with story, language, and African American culture inspired her to become a folklorist, anthropologist, novelist, and memoirist in an age when black women were considered second-class citizens at best, and African American literature was segregated from the canon. When she died poor and forgotten in 1960, the lion's share of her papers were misplaced, including nearly 500 of the black folktales she collected while driving solo across the South in the 1920s. Published here for the first time, these rescued folktales are introduced by Carla Kaplan, who explains that Hurston had planned a seven-volume folktale series but was only able to publish two, Mules and Men (1935) and Tell My Horse (1938). In this catch-up collection, it's obvious that Hurston transcribed each tale with great care, intent on preserving both the sound and sense of this unique vernacular oral tradition. In his frank and penetrating foreword, John Edgar Wideman discusses the prickly question of how dialect enforces racial stereotypes, but clearly Hurston sought to capture the "folk voice" of the South out of deep respect for its canny inventiveness, subversive humor, and immeasurable impact on the American character. And what treasures these are--mordantly clever and quintessentially human stories about God and the creation of the black race, the devil, preachers wily and foolish, animals, the battle between the sexes, and slaves who outsmart their masters. Invaluable tales of mischief and wisdom, spirit and hope. Donna Seaman


Publisher's Weekly Review

Although Hurston is better known for her novels, particularly Their Eyes Were Watching God, she might have been prouder of her anthropological field work. In 1927, with the support of Franz Boas, the dean of American anthropologists, Hurston traveled the Deep South collecting stories from black laborers, farmers, craftsmen and idlers. These tales featured a cast of characters made famous in Joel Chandler Harris's bowdlerized Uncle Remus versions, including John (related, no doubt, to High John the Conqueror), Brer Fox and various slaves. But for Hurston these stories were more than entertainments; they represented a utopia created to offset the sometimes unbearable pressures of disenfranchisement: "Brer Fox, Brer Deer, Brer 'Gator, Brer Dawg, Brer Rabbit, Ole Massa and his wife were walking the earth like natural men way back in the days when God himself was on the ground and men could talk with him." Hurston's notes, which somehow got lost, were recently rediscovered in someone else's papers at the Smithsonian. Divided into 15 categories ("Woman Tales," "Neatest Trick Tales," etc.), the stories as she jotted them down range from mere jokes of a few paragraphs to three-page episodes. Many are set "in slavery time," with "massa" portrayed as an often-gulled, but always potentially punitive, presence. There are a variety of "how come" and trickster stories, written in dialect. Acting the part of the good anthropologist, Hurston is scrupulously impersonal, and, as a result, the tales bear few traces of her inimitable voice, unlike Tell My Horse, her classic study of Haitian voodoo. Though this may limit the book's appeal among general readers, it is a boon for Hurston scholars and may, as Kaplan says in her introduction, establish Hurston's importance as an African-American folklorist. (Dec.) Forecast: Hurston's name will ensure this title ample review coverage, and it should do well among lovers of folktales, particularly those curious about Hurston's career in the field. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Hurston (1891-1960) rises again with this delightful collection of authentic African American folklore gathered from 122 individuals during her travels in Florida, Alabama, and New Orleans in the late 1920s. Intended for publication in 1929, the manuscript found its way into the National Anthropological Archives of the Smithsonian, where it was rediscovered and authenticated in 1991. Over 500 tales are presented as Hurston left them, in their vernacular dialect with no changes to grammar, spelling, punctuation, syntax, or dialect. A few of the tales appear among the 100 or so in Mules & Men (HarperCollins, 1990. reprint), but in contrast to that volume, in which Hurston contextualizes the tales and interjects her own personal experiences, this current collection offers isolated pieces organized within thematic groups (e.g., "God Tales" and "Mistaken Identity" tales). There are no interpretations, just annotations of folk expressions and slang taken mostly from Hurston's previously published glossaries and footnotes. With this new collection, Hurston provides an even greater sense of the black oral tradition, which demands appreciation and admiration. Highly recommended for general reading and for folklore collections in academic and large public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 8/01.] Jeris Cassel, Rutgers Univ. Libs., New Brunswick, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Every Tongue Got to Confess Negro Folk-tales From the Gulf States Chapter One Why God Made Adam Last God wuz through makin' de Ian' an' de sea an' de birds an' de animals an' de fishes an' de trees befo' He made man. He wuz intendin' tuh make 'im all along, but He put it off tuh de last cause if He had uh made Adam fust an' let him see Him makin' all dese other things, when Eve wuz made Adam would of stood round braggin' tuh her. He would of said: "Eve, do you see dat ole stripe-ed tagger (tiger) over dere? Ah made. See dat ole narrow geraffe (giraffe) over dere? Ah made 'im too. See dat big ole tree over dere? Ah made dat jus' so you could set under it." God knowed all dat, so He jus' waited till everything wuz finished before he made man, cause He knows man will lie and brag on hisself tuh uh woman. Man ain't found out yet how things wuz made--he ain't meant tuh know. --James Presley. When God first put folks on earth there wasn't no difference between men and women. They was all alike. They did de same work and everything. De man got tired uh fussin 'bout who gointer do this and who gointer do that. So he went up tuh God and ast him tuh give him power over de woman so dat he could rule her and stop all dat arguin'. He ast Him tuh give him a lil mo' strength and he'd do de heavy work and let de woman jus' take orders from him whut to do. He tole Him he wouldn't mind doing de heavy [work] if he could jus' boss de job. So de Lawd done all he ast Him and he went on back home--and right off he started tuh bossin' de woman uh-round. So de woman didn't lak dat a-tall. So she went up tuh God and ast Him how come He give man all de power and didn't leave her none. So He tole her, "You never ast Me for none. I thought you was satisfied." She says, "Well, I ain't, wid de man bossin' me round lak he took tuh doin' since you give him all de power. I wants half uh his power. Take it away and give it tuh me." De Lawd shook His head. He tole her, "I never takes nothin' back after I done give it out. It's too bad since you don't like it, but you shoulda come up wid him, then I woulda 'vided it half and half." De woman was so mad she left dere spittin' lak a cat. She went straight tuh de devil. He tole her: "I'll tell you whut to do. You go right back up tuh God and ast Him tuh give you dat bunch uh keys hangin' by de mantle shelf, den bring 'em here tuh me and I'll tell you whut to do wid 'em, and you kin have mo' power than man." So she did and God give 'em tuh her thout uh word and she took 'em back tuh de devil. They was three keys on dat ring. So de devil tole her whut they was. One was de key to de bedroom and one was de key to de cradle and de other was de kitchen key. He tole her not tuh go home and start no fuss, jus' take de keys and lock up everything an' wait till de man come in--and she could have her way. So she did. De man tried tuh ack stubborn at first. But he couldn't git no peace in de bed and nothin' tuh eat, an' he couldn't make no generations tuh follow him unless he use his power tuh suit de woman. It wasn't doin' him no good tuh have de power cause she wouldn't let 'im use it lak he wanted tuh. So he tried tuh dicker wid her. He said he'd give her half de power if she would let him keep de keys half de time. De devil popped right up and tole her naw, jus' keep whut she got and let him keep whut he got. So de man went back up tuh God, but He tole him Jus' lak he done de woman. So he ast God jus' tuh give him part de key tuh de cradle so's he could know and be sure who was de father of chillun, but God shook His head and tole him: "You have tuh ast de woman and take her word. She got de keys and I never take back whut I give out." So de man come on back and done lak de woman tole him for de sake of peace in de bed. And thass how come women got de power over mens today. --Old Man Drummond. God done pretty good when He made man, but He could have made us a lot more convenient. For instance: we only got eyes in de front uh our heads--we need some in de back, too, so nuthin' can't slip upon us. Nuther thing: it would be handy, too, ef we had one right on de end uv our dog finger (first finger). Den we could jest point dat eye any which way. Nuther thing: our mouths oughter be on top uv our heads 'stead uh right in front. Then, when I'm late tuh work I kin just throw my breakfast in my hat, an' put my hat on my head, an' eat my breakfast as I go on tuh work. Now, ain't dat reasonable, Miss? Besides, mouths ain't so pretty nohow. --George Brown. One day Christ wuz going along wid His disciples an' He tole 'em all tuh pick up uh rock an' bring it along. All of 'em got one, but Peter... Every Tongue Got to Confess Negro Folk-tales From the Gulf States . Copyright © by Zora Hurston. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Every Tongue Got to Confess: Negro Folk-Tales from the Gulf States by Zora Neale Hurston All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

John Edgar WidemanCarla Kaplan
Forewordp. xi
Introductionp. xxi
A Note to the Readerp. xxxiii
Negro Folk-tales from the Gulf Statesp. 1
Appendix 1

p. 257

Appendix 2

p. 259

Appendix 3 "Stories Kossula Told Me"p. 265

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