Boyd: There's two voices in Their Eyes Were Watching God. There's the voice of the narrator, which is incredibly poetic and penetrating, and then there's the voice of the idiom -- the voice of the people in the novel, and that voice is also quite poetic and penetrating and haunting. And it captures the poetry of the people in Eatonville who Hurston grew up with. And she really wanted to, I think in this novel, elevate that language to the level of poetry -- to the level of literature. At that point, in literary history, this kind of language -- if it had been used in literature in the past, it was sometimes used in a condescending way. Hurston used it in a way that elevated it -- that said these people's language is literature. These people's language is poetry, and it was her first language. Having grown up in Eatonville, it was her first language as a writer and as a storyteller. So she wasn't coming to it as an outsider, but as someone who knew the language intimately and understood its poetry and its beauty and wanted to really hand it to the world as a gift.
According to Hurston biographer Valerie Boyd, we can find the best expression of this passion in Hurstons 1937 classic novel (and The Big Read selection) Their Eyes were Watching God. [clip 1:10]