Zora Hurston Neale Criticism: Mule Bone - Essay

Henry Louis Gates Jr. (review date 1991)

(Drama Criticism)

SOURCE: “Why the Mule Bone Debate Goes On,” in Critical Essays on Zora Neale Hurston, edited by Gloria L. Cronin, G. K. Hall & Co., 1998, pp. 225-28.

[In the following review, originally published in the New York Times on February 10, 1991, Gates considers Hurston's desire to portray authentic black culture in Mule Bone.]

Controversy over the play Mule Bone has existed ever since it was written by Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston in 1930. Not only did an authors' quarrel prevent the play from being produced, but its exclusive use of black folk vernacular has also provoked debate. In 1984, when the play became part of the...

(The entire section is 1905 words.)

Patrick Pacheco (review date 1991)

(Drama Criticism)

SOURCE: “A Discovery Worth the Wait,” in Critical Essays on Zora Neale Hurston, edited by Gloria L. Cronin, G. K. Hall & Co., 1998, pp. 232-36.

[In the following review, originally published in the Los Angeles Times on February 24, 1991, Pacheco acknowledges the dramatic limitations of Mule Bone but favorably assesses its first production in 1991.]

In the Broadway production of Mule Bone, the characters gathered on the teeming porch of Joe Clark's general store in Eatonville, Fla., tease and cajole each other, laughing at the small-town follies at the heart of this 1930 comedy written by Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston.

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(The entire section is 2135 words.)

Frank Rich (review date 1991)

(Drama Criticism)

SOURCE: “A Difficult Birth for Mule Bone,” in Critical Essays on Zora Neale Hurston, edited by Gloria L. Cronin, G. K. Hall & Co., 1998, pp. 229-31.

[In the following review, originally published in the New York Times on February 15, 1991, Rich enumerates several flaws in the Lincoln Center Theater production of Mule Bone, and observes that the play “feels like a rough draft in which two competing voices are trying to reach a compromise.”]

If ever there was a promising idea for a play, it is the enigmatic story of what went on when two giants of the Harlem Renaissance briefly collided in 1930 to collaborate on “a comedy of Negro...

(The entire section is 1207 words.)

Henry Louis Gates Jr. (essay date 1991)

(Drama Criticism)

SOURCE: “A Tragedy of Negro Life,” in Mule Bone: A Comedy of Negro Life by Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, Harper Perennial, 1991, pp. 5-24.

[In the following essay, Gates details the collaboration of Langston Hughes and Hurston on the play Mule Bone, and describes the plot and historical influence of the drama.]

This play was never done because the authors fell out.

—Langston Hughes, 1931

And fall out, unfortunately, they did, thereby creating the most notorious literary quarrel in African-American cultural history, and one of the most thoroughly documented...

(The entire section is 5601 words.)

Lisa Boyd (essay date 1994-1995)

(Drama Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Folk, the Blues, and the Problems of Mule Bone,” in The Langston Hughes Review, Vol. XIII, No. 1, Fall-Spring, 1994-1995, pp. 33-44.

[In the following essay, Boyd offers an initial evaluation of Mule Bone, a plays she suggests requires further critical study. She examines the famous literary quarrel of its authors, Hurston and Langston Hughes, and maintains that although the play presents stereotyped characters and a weak plot, it features a tragic sensibility beneath its comic surface.]

Dream-singers
Story-tellers
Dancers
Loud laughters in the hands of Fate—My people

Langston Hughes, “My People”

...

(The entire section is 7790 words.)