Archive | Thursday , May 24 , 2007

Zora Neale Hurston & Langston Hughes Literary Friendship Ended Over Controversial Play Mule Bone!

I am reading Carla Kaplan’s incisive biography  “Zora Neale Hurston A Life In Letters” again! I recently purchased my copy and I encourage anyone that is a fan of Zora Neale Hurston to buy this book! I like how Kaplan compiled all of Hurston’s letters in chronological order and also included a written discussion about Hurston’s life from the 1920s to the 1950s. Kaplan really made the book very enjoyable and easy to read. Kaplan really did a great job. We learn about Zora’s heartache dealing with racism and sexism during the 1930s when she began applying for grants. We also discover Hurston was not just an author she also was a trained anthropologist.

I hope to purchase Ms. Boyd’s biography “Wrapped In Rainbows” soon it was also recently published a few years ago. Kaplan’s book is simply amazing. Kaplan really did an amazing job of collecting numerous primary source material. I feel like I was entering Zora’s mind I was able to see her thought process.

Zora also was an actress in many ways. Sometimes Zora would act like a stereotypical mammy to gain patronage or acquire support and money from powerful whites. Other times, Zora’s letters come across that she’s a civil rights actvist. Some letters Zora wrote about the importance of black feminism. Zora had written to both her friends and even her enemies. Zora was aware of the persona she had to “create” in order to “get” what she wanted from the respondent to her letters. Zora was a very shrewd woman she knew how to work with people but also how to manipulate them as well.

The book also includes discussion about the famous literary dispute Zora had with Langston Hughes over a play called “Mule Bone.” Sadly, the fight Hurston and Hughes had over “Mule Bone” ended their friendship. Interestingly, Zora does not talk about the “Mule Bone” dispute at all in her controversial memoir “Dust Tracks On A Road.” Langston Hughes does talk about the “Mule Bone” dispute in his first autobiography “The Big Sea” which was published in 1940. Zora’ memoir was published in 1942 she must of known about Langston’s memoir. Zora ignores Langston completely in her memoir as though he never existed.

The dispute between Hurston and Hughes centered around a typist named Louise Thompson she was hired by their “Godmother” Charlotte Osgood Mason. Mason was an old white woman that believed in capturing the essence of the “primitive” African American culture. Hurston and Hughes had contracts with Mason to collect and work on art dealing with African American culture.

Hurston doesn’t seem to trust Thompson and she considers her a threat. I keep on wondering if Kaplan could of peeled the surface a bit more though. I wanted to know were Langston and Zora lovers? The anger and the betrayal Zora feels about Louise Thompson to me suggests there was maybe a love triangle going on? We don’t know if Langston and Zora were romantically involved but I suspect they were. I hope Boyd’s book brings some light to this issue.

Although later on in Langston Hughes life the writer Faith Berry points out that Hughes was indeed a homosexual. I also believe Langston was a homosexual and I think there was dissemblance on his part to hide his homosexuality. Lorraine Hansberry the playwright wrote for the lesbian publication “The Ladder” in the 1950s. Langston Hughes had to hide his homosexuality because he was fearful of losing the public support of the black heterosexual community.

Hughes never married and he never had children. Now of course being single and childless does not mean a person is a homosexual. However, Faith Berry’s 1992 book “Before & Beyond Harlem.” I think is the best biography on Hughes it deals with the fact that he was indeed a homosexual.

The French Open


The second grand slam of the year is about to start next week on the red clay in Paris France. I am very excited about the French Open because I am such a tennis fan. Contrary to popular belief the FrenchOpen is the second most important slam after Wimbledon and not the US OPEN. The French Open is also the toughest slam to win because you need fitness, stamina, intelligence, not just power to win on this surface. I love tennis however, in Canada tennis is hardly ever on TV. I find myself more interested in the men’s French Open event then the women’s event. Women’s tennis has lost its spark its so boring and the new young players coming up on the WTA are not being marketed at all. The only player the WTA market is that blonde barbie doll wannabe Maria Sharapova.

The Women

The WTA is so boring these days. Does anyone really care about Justine Henin winning yet another French Open? Henin has won the French Open three times in the last four years yet she has zero personality. I understand Henin is a private person but by not allowing the public to get to see another side of her life she comes across as cold and indifferent. Henin just got divorced this year yet she refuses to discuss the details. I don’t hate Henin I respect her talent but I also feel like I can’t really feel an interest in her either. Henin is a great champion and she is the one to beat in Paris. Maybe its because its lost in translation since Henin’s first language is French?

Amelie Mauresmo finally won two slams last year at the Australian Open and Wimbledon. However, Mauresmo seems to be “satisfied” she no longer has the label of “best woman never to have won a major.” Mauresmo has fallen in the rankings but she has achieved what she wanted out of her career. The fire is gone from Amelie. In France, the pressure this year is perhaps off because she won Wimbledon last year. Yet the French want to see a French born woman win the French Open.

Serena Williams is the story of the year in 2007 she silenced her critics by blasting her way to her eighth grand slam title in January at the Australian Open. Serena followed up that victory though defeating world number one Justine Henin at the Miami event. Serena is also back in the top 10. Serena can definitely win the title. Serena already won the French Open in 2002. Serena is the only really interesting player on the WTA this year. The WTA should be grateful that Serena has bounced back she along with Venus are the only really interesting players in women’s tennis.

Svetlana Kuznetsova is considered the “other Russian” she is now number three in the world and she did reach the French Open final last year. Svetlana won her only grand slam title three years ago at the US OPEN. Svetlana finally defeated Justine Henin for only the second time at the German Open this May. However, Svetlana has lost all three finals she’s been in this season.

Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic the young Serbians are the new girls to the WTA top 10. Jankovic is now no.4 and Ivanovic is no.10. Both won tier I clay court events leading up to the French Open. Ivanovic won Berlin and Jankovic won the Italian Open both defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova. However, I am not sure Ivanovic and Jankovic have got what it takes to go all the way and win the French Open?

Clay is Maria Sharapova’s worst surface she’s reached the quarterfinals of the French Open twice but everyone knows she is a champion and is capable of winning the event. A quick and talented clay court player could defeat Sharapova though prior to the quarterfinals. Sharapova could surprise and go the distance though.

I notice no one in the media is talking about Serena’s older sister Venus. Its such a shame Venus has returned to the WTA from a wrist injury and her comeback has not been as successful as Serena’s. Venus is in the WTA top 25 however, that’s not good enough for a great champion like Venus. Venus is not a contender in Paris and she might not even reach the fourth round. Venus is low on confidence and her second serve is holding her back. Venus double faults too much yet she denies having a problem with her game.

Nicole Vaidišová reached the French Open semifinals last year but choked in her match with Svetlana Kuznetsova . She was just a few points away from the final but collapsed under the pressure. Vaidišová a did reach the Australian Open semifnals this year but was blasted off the court by Serena Williams.

The Men

The French Open has been criticized by a lot of people in the United States because American men tend to do poorly at the French Open. During this decade in the 2000s no American male has advanced to the French Open semifinals. Andre Agassi managed to reach the French Open quaterfinals this decade. The new American tennis generation just doesn’t seem to got what it takes to do well at the French Open. Andy Roddick and James Blake’s best results in Paris have been third round knockouts. Andy Roddick and James Blake have proven they are hopeless on clay. Maybe Blake and Roddick will surprise the public and do some damage on clay at the French Open. Blake is the one with more natural talent he moves very well and that’s a requirement on clay. Roddick is much slower he is taller then Blake but he has poor footwork. Roddick has a powerful serve but the clay neutralizes his serving power. Roddick just doesn’t have the patience to rally on the clay.

The main contenders for the French Open men’s title of course are Rafael Nadal the world number two and world number one Roger Federer. Roger Federer just snapped Nadal’s 81 match winning streak in Hamburg Germany. However, the French Open is a two week event and Nadal is still the heavy favourite to win his third French Open crown. Federer won his fourth Hamburg title and his first Masters title of the year. The win stopped a four event slide for the world number one. Federer wants to win the French Open to win a career grand slam.

There is not really a third contender but a few players that could potentially slip in and win the French Open if Nadal and Federer both lose early. Novak Djokovic is a young Serbian male player in the top six of the world. Djokovic has been blasting up the rankings he has already won a Masters event in Miami he defeated Nadal along the way. Djokovic won a hard court title in Adelaide but he also won a clay court event in Estoril Portugal. Djokovic reached the French Open quaterfinals last year. Djokovic is very young but he definitely has the belief and the fire that can do some damage and perhaps surprise and win the title.

Nikolay Davydenko the world number four no one talks about him but he surprised a lot of people when he pushed Nadal hard at the Italian Open event this year. Davydenko almost beat Nadal but lost in an epic three hour battle 7-6 6-7 6-4. The problem for Davydenko is that although he is fearless he gets tight in big matches and he has never proved in his career that he can breakthrough. Davydenko has reached the French Open semifinals in 2005 and the quaterfinals last year. Davydenko’s talent is obvious but the question has always been his mind. Does Nikolay believe he can win the French Open? The question is still up in the air.

Fernando Gonzalez the world number five is a solid clay court player. Fernando reached the Italian Open finals this year losing to Nadal and the Hamburg quarterfinals also losing to Nadal. However, the strategy Fernando used against Nadal in the German event was very unintelligent. Fernando consistenly hit his powerful forehand to Nadal’s backhand and that’s just not very smart. Nadal’s backhand is the steady side.

One of the South American or Spaniards could of course surprise and win the French Open. David Nalbandian has had a horrible year with lackluster results. The Argentine however is very consistent in the slams he’s always in the second week. Nalbandian has never played Nadal before. Nalbandian has reached the French Open semifinals twice in 2005 and last year. He definitely has the game but does he have the fitness and the mind?

After Nalbandian perhaps Lleyton Hewitt could do some damage. Hewitt isn’t viewed as a clay court player but he has reached the French Open quarterfinals before. In the Hamburg event last week Hewitt almost beat Nadal extending him to a 2-6 6-3 7-5 result. Hewitt got a bit tight in the end but he employed the same strategy as Davydenko and that is to attack the Nadal forehand and push him wide forcing him into unforced errors. Nadal does not like being rushed on his forehand he prefers not to hit it down the line unless necessary. Nadal prefers to hit his forehand cross court.

After Hewitt there are of course dangerous floaters like Paul Henri Mathieu, Nicolas Almagro, and a few more.


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