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Works by
Carson McCullers
(Writer)
[February 19, 1917 September 29, 1967]

Biography/Memoirs

Novels

  • The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1940) -- 2004 Oprah Book Club selection
    With the publication of her first novel, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers, all of twenty-three, became a literary sensation. With its profound sense of moral isolation and its compassionate glimpses into its characters' inner lives, the novel is considered McCullers' finest work, an enduring masterpiece first published by Houghton Mifflin in 1940.

    At its center is the deaf-mute John Singer, who becomes the confidant for various types of misfits in a Georgia mill town during the 1930s. Each one yearns for escape from small town life. When Singer's mute companion goes insane, Singer moves into the Kelly house, where Mick Kelly, the book's heroine (and loosely based on McCullers), finds solace in her music.

    Wonderfully attuned to the spiritual isolation that underlies the human condition, and with a deft sense for racial tensions in the South, McCullers spins a haunting, unforgettable story that gives voice to the rejected, the forgotten, and the mistreated -- and, through Mick Kelly, gives voice to the quiet, intensely personal search for beauty.

    Richard Wright praised Carson McCullers for her ability "to rise above the pressures of her environment and embrace white and black humanity in one sweep of apprehension and tenderness." She writes "with a sweep and certainty that are overwhelming," said the New York Times. McCullers became an overnight literary sensation, but her novel has endured, just as timely and powerful today as when it was first published.

    The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
    is Carson McCullers at her most compassionate, endearing best.

  • Reflections in a Golden Eye (1941)
    Set on a Southern army base in the 1930s, REFLECTIONS tells the story of Captain Penderton, a bisexual whose life is upset by the arrival of Major Langdon, a charming womanizer who has an affair with Penderton's tempestuous and flirtatious wife, Leonora. Upon the novel's publication in 1941, reviewers were unsure of what to make of its relatively scandalous subject matter. But a critic for Time Magazine wrote, "In almost any hands, such material would yield a rank fruitcake of mere arty melodrama. But Carson McCullers tells her tale with simplicity, insight, and a rare gift of phrase." Written during a time when McCullers's own marriage to Reeves was on the brink of collapse, her second novel deals with her trademark themes of alienation and unfulfilled loves.
    Movie: McCullers' second novel, Reflections in a Golden Eye, immortalized by the 1967 film starring Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, and John Houston.

  • The Member of the Wedding (1946)
    Here is the story of the inimitable twelve-year-old Frankie, who is utterly, hopelessly bored with life until she hears about her older brother's wedding. Bolstered by lively conversations with her house servant, Berenice, and her six-year-old male cousin not to mention her own unbridled imagination Frankie takes on an overly active role in the wedding, hoping even to go, uninvited, on the honeymoon, so deep is her desire to be the member of something larger, more accepting than herself.
    Movie:

  • Clock Without Hands (1961)
    Set in Georgia on the eve of court-ordered integration, Clock Without Hands contains McCullers's most poignant statement on race, class, and justice. A small-town druggist dying of leukemia calls himself and his community to account in this tale of change and changelessness, of death and the death-in-life that is hate. It is a tale, as McCullers herself wrote, of "response and responsibility--of man toward his own livingness."

Plays
Poetry
Short Stories
  • The Jockey (1941)
    See The Ballad of the Sad Cafe -- And Other Stories

  • The Ballad of the Sad Cafe -- And Other Stories (1967)
    A Domestic Dilemma; A Tree - a Rock - a Cloud; Madame Zilensky and the King of Finland; The Jockey; The Sojourner; and Wunderkind

  • Collected Stories of Carson McCullers (1987)
    Carson McCullers -- novelist, dramatist, poet--was at the peak of her powers as a writer of short fiction. Here are nineteen stories that explore her signature themes: wounded adolescence, loneliness in marriage, and the tragicomedy of life in the South. Here too are "The Member of the Wedding" and "The Ballad of the Sad Cafe," novellas that Tennessee Williams judged to be "assuredly among the masterpieces of our language."

  • A Tree, a Rock, a Cloud (1989)
    A transient stops at an all-night cafe and explains to the owner and a paperboy how the science of love helped him to recover after his wife left him. Young Adults.

Other
  • The Ballad of the Sad Cafe: and Other Stories (1951)
    A classic work that has charmed generations of readers, this collection assembles Carson McCullers's best stories, including her beloved novella "The Ballad of the Sad Caf." A haunting tale of a human triangle that culminates in an astonishing brawl, the novella introduces readers to Miss Amelia, a formidable southern woman whose caf serves as the town's gathering place. Among other fine works, the collection also includes "Wunderkind," McCullers's first published story written when she was only seventeen about a musical prodigy who suddenly realizes she will not go on to become a great pianist. Newly reset and available for the first time in a handsome trade paperback edition, The Ballad of the Sad Caf is a brilliant study of love and longing from one of the South's finest writers.

  • Clock Without Hands (1961)

  • The Mortgaged Heart (1972) Margarita G. Smith (Carson McCuller's sister)
    An absorbing look at the early beginnings of one of America's finest writers, The Mortgaged Heart is an important collection of Carson McCullers's work, including stories, essays, articles, poems, and her writing on writing. These pieces, written mostly before McCullers was nineteen, provide invaluable insight into her life and her gifts and growth as a writer. The collection also contains the working outline of "The Mute," which became her best-selling novel The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. As new generations of readers continue to discover her work, Carson McCullers's celebrated place in American letters survives more surely than ever.

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