Essay on A Postmodern Tendancy in Their Eyes Were Watching God

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A Postmodern Tendancy in Their Eyes Were Watching God

...Zora Neale Hurston lacks [any] excuse. The sensory sweep of her novel

carries no theme, no message, no thought. In the main, her novel is not

addressed to the Negro, but to a white audience whose chauvinistic tastes she

knows how to satisfy. She exploits the phase of Negro life which is "quaint," the

phase which evokes a piteous smile on the lips of the "superior" race.

-- from "Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)," a review by Richard Wright

An unfortunate side effect of the postmodern tendency is often reactions like the above. Zora's work was not readily accepted in its time. Unlike fellow writers such as Faulkner and Joyce,
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Zora exhibits these tendancies, which, taken separately, have been expounded upon but not yet fully exhausted, and the time has come to realize her as a postmodern force.

Jean-Francois Lyotard, in his essay, "The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge," defines postmodernism "as incredulity toward metannaratives (Lyotard, 71)." This works out to mean that the overarching metanarrative of the world, which is given to us by the ruling class if one subscribes to class theories, that forms our worldview has failed to fulfill our needs. The world is now seen as intersecting micronarratives; people can relate because their personal explanation of the world connects with another's explanation, but are recognizably individual because no two worldviews are identical. All micronarratives are equally valid in Lyotard's theories, and this fits in nicely with postmodernism's push towards inclusion rather than marginalization. This theory also pushes postmodernism into one of its other major facets, the breakdown of binary systems.

Hassan is the pundit of the anti-binarial division of the postmodern. He details that postmodernism is not anti-modernism; it is not a "reaction to" or successive movement. Indeed, it is different than modernism, but also shares many

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