Carson McCullers

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

September 29, 1967



Carson McCullers was an American who 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 (including Carson McCullers) claim she wrote in

Average rating: 3.95 · 131,686 ratings · 9,607 reviews · 94 distinct worksSimilar authors
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

3.98 avg rating — 88,073 ratings — published 1940 — 181 editions
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The Member of the Wedding

3.81 avg rating — 14,169 ratings — published 1946 — 96 editions
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The Ballad of the Sad Café ...

4.01 avg rating — 10,306 ratings — published 1951 — 43 editions
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Reflections in a Golden Eye

3.83 avg rating — 4,064 ratings — published 1941 — 70 editions
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Collected Stories

4.31 avg rating — 2,185 ratings — published 1987 — 13 editions
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Clock Without Hands

3.88 avg rating — 1,920 ratings — published 1961 — 55 editions
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La balada del café triste

3.60 avg rating — 4,260 ratings — published 1951 — 93 editions
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Complete Novels: The Heart ...

4.38 avg rating — 1,026 ratings — published 2001
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The Haunted Boy

3.97 avg rating — 332 ratings — published 2018
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The Member of the Wedding: ...

3.74 avg rating — 381 ratings — published 1951 — 5 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


June 2016 New School Classic Poll

  41 votes, 18.9%

  36 votes, 16.6%

  22 votes, 10.1%

1955, On the Road by Jack Kerouac, 307 pages
  20 votes, 9.2%

1913, Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, 134 pages
  19 votes, 8.8%

1930, As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner, 267 pages
  17 votes, 7.8%

  13 votes, 6.0%

1995, High Fidelity by Nick Hornby, 334 pages
  11 votes, 5.1%

  9 votes, 4.1%

1997, American Pastoral by Philip Roth, 424 pages
  7 votes, 3.2%

1988, Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco, 649 pages
  6 votes, 2.8%

1971, Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner, 569 pages
  5 votes, 2.3%

1957, The Birds by Tarjei Vesaas, 200 pages
  4 votes, 1.8%

1958, Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene, 220 pages
  4 votes, 1.8%

1987, Cities of Salt by Abdul Rahman Munif, 627 pages
  3 votes, 1.4%


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