No Matter How Far a Person Can Go the Horizon Is Still Way Beyond You

Zora Neale Hurston? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Futurists use the horizon metaphorically to help explain the limits of prediction. As one approaches the horizon, more of the world becomes visible, but there are always vast regions that remain invisible because they are beyond the horizon. I think the Harlem Renaissance author Zora Neale Hurston employed the ever receding horizon figuratively in one of her novels. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: Zora Neale Hurston’s 1937 work “Their Eyes Were Watching God” included the following discussion of the character Nanny. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

But Nanny belonged to that other kind that loved to deal in scraps. Here Nanny had taken the biggest thing God ever made, the horizon—for no matter how far a person can go the horizon is still way beyond you—and pinched it in to such a little bit of a thing that she could tie it about her granddaughter’s neck tight enough to choke her.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading No Matter How Far a Person Can Go the Horizon Is Still Way Beyond You

Notes:

  1. 1978 (Copyright 1937), Their Eyes Were Watching God: A Novel by Zora Neale Hurston, Chapter 9, Quote Page 138, University of Illinois Press, Urbana, Illinois. (Verified with scans)

If You Haven’t Got It, You Can’t Show It. If You Have Got It, You Can’t Hide It

Zora Neale Hurston? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: A quotation about success has been attributed to the prominent American author and pioneering folklorist Zora Neale Hurston. Here are two versions:

Those who don’t got it, can’t show it. Those who got it, can’t hide it
Those that don’t got it, can’t show it. Those that got it, can’t hide it.

I have been unable to find this statement in her writings. Are these her words? If she did use this expression I would like to see the larger context.

Quote Investigator: In 1942 Zora Neale Hurston published an autobiography titled “Dust Tracks on a Road”, and it included the quotation; however, the wording differed from the two versions given above:

If you haven’t got it, you can’t show it. If you have got it, you can’t hide it.

Here is an excerpt showing that Hurston was discussing the future success of blacks in the United States and the world. In this passage she emphasized the perspective of the individual. Boldface has been added: 1

It would be against all nature for all the Negroes to be either at the bottom, top, or in between. It has never happened with anybody else, so why with us? No, we will go where the internal drive carries us like everybody else. It is up to the individual. If you haven’t got it, you can’t show it. If you have got it, you can’t hide it. That is one of the strongest laws God ever made.

Here are additional selected citations.

Continue reading If You Haven’t Got It, You Can’t Show It. If You Have Got It, You Can’t Hide It

Notes:

  1. 1969, Dust Tracks On a Road, Chapter XII: My People! My People!, Start Page 223, Quote Page 245, Arno Press, New York. (Arno Press published in 1969 a reproduction of the 1942 first edition published by J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia) (Verified with scans of Arno Press edition)