Carson McCullers

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Carson McCullers

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in Columbus, Georgia, The United States
February 19, 1917

September 29, 1967



Chekhov; Dostoevsky; Tennessee Williams

About this author

Carson McCullers (February 19, 1917 – September 29, 1967) was an American writer. She wrote fiction, often described as Southern Gothic, that explores the spiritual isolation of misfits and outcasts of the South.

From 1935 to 1937 she divided her time, as her studies and health dictated, between Columbus and New York and in September 1937 she married an ex-soldier and aspiring writer, Reeves McCullers. They began their married life in Charlotte, North Carolina where Reeves had found some work. There, and in Fayetteville, North Carolina, she wrote her first novel, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, in the Southern Gothic tradition.

The title, suggested by McCullers's editor, was taken from Fiona MacLeod's poem "The Lonely Hunter." However, many (

Average rating: 3.94 · 88,350 ratings · 5,783 reviews · 56 distinct works · Similar authors
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 62,392 ratings — published 1940 — 111 editions
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The Member of the Wedding
3.79 of 5 stars 3.79 avg rating — 9,304 ratings — published 1946 — 64 editions
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The Ballad of the Sad Café ...
4.01 of 5 stars 4.01 avg rating — 7,553 ratings — published 1951 — 77 editions
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Reflections in a Golden Eye
3.85 of 5 stars 3.85 avg rating — 2,389 ratings — published 1940 — 40 editions
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Collected Stories
4.29 of 5 stars 4.29 avg rating — 1,514 ratings — published 1987 — 10 editions
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Clock Without Hands
3.86 of 5 stars 3.86 avg rating — 1,170 ratings — published 1961 — 29 editions
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Complete Novels: The Heart ...
4.38 of 5 stars 4.38 avg rating — 818 ratings — published 2001
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The Member of the Wedding: ...
3.71 of 5 stars 3.71 avg rating — 241 ratings — published 1951 — 4 editions
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The Mortgaged Heart: Select...
4.05 of 5 stars 4.05 avg rating — 225 ratings — published 1970 — 15 editions
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3.7 of 5 stars 3.70 avg rating — 141 ratings — published 2011 — 4 editions
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More books by Carson McCullers…
“Next to music, beer was best.”
Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

“First of all, love is a joint experience between two persons — but the fact that it is a joint experience does not mean that it is a similar experience to the two people involved. There are the lover and the beloved, but these two come from different countries. Often the beloved is only a stimulus for all the stored-up love which had lain quiet within the lover for a long time hitherto. And somehow every lover knows this. He feels in his soul that his love is a solitary thing. He comes to know a new, strange loneliness and it is this knowledge which makes him suffer. So there is only one thing for the lover to do. He must house his love within himself as best he can; he must create for himself a whole new inward world — a world intense and strange, complete in himself. Let it be added here that this lover about whom we speak need not necessarily be a young man saving for a wedding ring — this lover can be man, woman, child, or indeed any human creature on this earth.

Now, the beloved can also be of any description. The most outlandish people can be the stimulus for love. A man may be a doddering great-grandfather and still love only a strange girl he saw in the streets of Cheehaw one afternoon two decades past. The preacher may love a fallen woman. The beloved may be treacherous, greasy-headed, and given to evil habits. Yes, and the lover may see this as clearly as anyone else — but that does not affect the evolution of his love one whit. A most mediocre person can be the object of a love which is wild, extravagant, and beautiful as the poison lilies of the swamp. A good man may be the stimulus for a love both violent and debased, or a jabbering madman may bring about in the soul of someone a tender and simple idyll. Therefore, the value and quality of any love is determined solely by the lover himself.

It is for this reason that most of us would rather love than be loved. Almost everyone wants to be the lover. And the curt truth is that, in a deep secret way, the state of being beloved is intolerable to many. The beloved fears and hates the lover, and with the best of reasons. For the lover is forever trying to strip bare his beloved. The lover craves any possible relation with the beloved, even if this experience can cause him only pain.”
Carson McCullers, The Ballad of the Sad Café and Other Stories

“We are homesick most for the places we have never known.”
Carson McCullers


December 2014 New School Classics Poll

Which book would you like to read for our December 2014 New School Classics group read?

1963, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, 288 pages
  36 votes, 20.9%

1930, As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner, 267 pages
  19 votes, 11.0%

  18 votes, 10.5%

  17 votes, 9.9%

1981, Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie, 647 pages
  14 votes, 8.1%

  14 votes, 8.1%

  13 votes, 7.6%

1918, My Ántonia by Willa Cather, 232 pages
  12 votes, 7.0%

1932, Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons, 233 pages
  12 votes, 7.0%

  10 votes, 5.8%

1940, Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton, 320 pages
  3 votes, 1.7%

1992, Sacred Hunger by Barry Unsworth, 630 pages
  2 votes, 1.2%

1961, A House for Mr Biswas by V.S. Naipaul, 623 pages
  2 votes, 1.2%

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