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Reflections in a Golden Eye

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  3,337 Ratings  ·  273 Reviews
Private Ellgee Williams was accidentally the witness to a strange scene between Captain Penderton and his wife which took place one evening in the living room of their home.

Private Williams was a young man who lived a secretive and solitary life. His eyes were a curious blend of amber and brown, and he moved silently, with the grace of a panther.

The captain's wife was vol
Paperback, 121 pages
Published 1953 by Bantam Books (first published 1941)
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Jim Davis McCullers tells us twice in the novel: "'A peacock of a sort of ghastly green. With one immense golden eye. And in it these reflections of something…moreMcCullers tells us twice in the novel: "'A peacock of a sort of ghastly green. With one immense golden eye. And in it these reflections of something tiny and ---'" "'Groteseque,' she finished for him. "

Every character in the novel is warped by some obsession, passion, self-denial, wantonness, self-indulgence, etc., etc., to the point that they are unable to function in normal human society. This is the definition of the "grotesque" in literature, especially in the "Southern Grotesque" school of writing (Faulkner, Welty, O'Connor, Capote, etc.). I think McCullers was trying to take the genre as far as it could go in order to examine how the concept works in all of us.(less)

Community Reviews

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Rating details
Sort: Default
Sep 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those daring to look at their reflection in the mirror
Shelves: read-in-2014
An impending sense of dread interlaces the lives of five characters set on an army base in the American South of the 1930s. They are all prey of the remorse that goes along with secret liaisons, inner frustrations and repressed sexual preferences. With the rigidness of the secluded military system and the inherent loneliness in hermetic marriages imposed by social convention as a backdrop, resentments and obsessions will fester in contained aggressiveness and will inevitably escalate towards a v ...more
This novel, Carson McCullers's second, first came out serialized in Harper's Bazaar in 1940. The following year it was published as a book. She wrote it in 1939, originally entitled Army Post. The idea for the book grew from both a visit she had made as an adolescent to Fort Benning in Georgia and then later her husband's mention of a peeking Tom incident at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. I assume you know what a peeping Tom is.

The story is laid up as a mystery. You are told at the beginning tha
Jun 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015

I am humbled once again by the familiarity of Carson McCullers with pain, loneliness and alienation - the dark thread that ties together her novels and stories, the silent scream of despair that unites the patrons of a sad cafe with the unsuccesful hunters for love in a mill town, and now with the officers and their consorts on an army base somewhere in Georgia.

I am so immersed in my characters that their motives are my own. When I write about a thief, I become one; when I write about Captain P
Paul Bryant
Dec 26, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Carson’s biographer tells us that her family got an anonymous phone call just after this novel was published.

An alleged Ku Klux Klansman called to say that he and his friends were going to get her that night. She had been a “nigger lover” in her first book, he said, and now she had proven herself “a queer” as well. Carson’s indignant father waited all night on the front porch of their Starke Avenue home to greet the Klansman with a loaded shotgun and was disappointed when no one attempted to car
Mar 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, us, 20-ce
I love the way McCullers's work is overrun with the most vivid queens. Some closeted, like Lieutenant Penderton here, but others gay and carefree, like Anacleto, Mrs. Langdon's Filipino houseboy. This is a story of sexual derangement, of what happens when the love impulse is forced underground, in an age when it dare not speak its name. The novel is in its way almost unutterably sad. It makes us glad that we live in comparatively happier times. Despite the fact that McCullers has these moments o ...more
Jan 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
Reflections in a Golden Eye starts plainly enough, easing into the lives of a Captain, a Major, their wives and a strange, compulsive observer, a soldier portrayed part innocent child and part insidious interloper.

The story plays out calmly but at times is like a feverish dream full of nervous, fearful, desiring creatures - a mix of human and animal impressions adding to the overall surreal quality.

I am continually startled by the Carson McCullers work, and her intuitive handling of human frail
Teresa Proença
Jun 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: n-eua, e5
O capitão Penderton, a mulher Leonora e o soldado Williams; o major Langdon, a mulher Alison e o criado Anacleto.
São seis personagens que vivem e convivem numa base militar

Carson McCullers
é uma escritora com um dom para criar personagens complexas e narrar, com uma escrita despretensiosa, as suas paixões, desgostos, desilusões,...
Personagens com desejos, personalidades e comportamentos invulgares que nos surpreendem e estranhamos, mas que não considero absurdos porque estão coerentes com quem s
Duffy Pratt
Apr 30, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic
Upon finishing this, I checked McCullers biography online to see whether she committed suicide. It turns out she didn't. Instead, she tried and failed, and somehow that is even more fitting.

I don't know if I've ever read anyone who has a both flatter and bleaker view of people. Her writing ranges from the very good to the spectacular. The people in her world are grotesques who would fit into other Southern Gothic writers books. They would be right at home in Flannery O'Connor or Faulker, for exa
A novella set in an army camp in the US south in the 50s or 60s. It concerns six characters (two officer couples, a servant and a conscript), each with an obsession with one of the others.

Unlike some of her books, race barely comes into it, but rank and sexuality do.

It's slow, painful, a little weird and beautiful. As with all her writing, there are literal and more metaphorical lyrical aspects to the writing (reflecting her musical training).
Kitabı da Carson McCullers'ın anlatımını da sevdim; fakat yayımlanan diğer kitaplarının baskısı yok şu an sanırım. Dilerim en kısa zamanda yeni baskılarını yayımlarlar.

"La mente es como un tapiz ricamente tejido, en el cual los colores provienen de las experiencias de los sentidos y el diseño está trazado por las circunvoluciones del cerebro. La mente del soldado Williams era una mezcla de colores y tonos extraños, pero no tenía trazado alguno, carecía de forma"

Leído para la lectura Conjunta que realizamos Laura y Nuria de la novela, #LCReflejos

Sigo con McCullers después de leer esa impresionante pieza literaria llamada El corazón es un cazador solitari
May 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nord-america
Questo breve libro racconta di un “luogo noioso”, di cinque persone che vi abitano e del tipo di rapporto che esse intrattengono con i “tre problemi fondamentali dell’esistenza: la vita in sé, la morte e la sessualità”.
Con un’obiettività feroce, che esclude volutamente qualsiasi forma di giudizio, McCullers tiene il suo occhio – che mi piace immaginare azzurro come quello del capitano Penderton - ben aperto e fisso sull’ordinario abisso di queste persone folli, banali, bizzarre, tormentate, ann
Rıdvan Araman
Ne bunalım bir kitaptı böyle. Anormal duygular, ruh hastaları, bilmem neler. Ay ay ay.
[2016 review revision: This is a very short book that took me a year and a half to read, from late 2011 to spring 2013. The circumstances as to why that was the case used to be in this review, but I have now excised all of those personal effusions and retired them to my own archives. What follows is the rest of the review as it was posted in 2013:]

So, to pen any kind of decent review, can I even remember very much about this Southern gothic chamber piece featuring three mainly sexually repressed
I might have liked this better had I not read Flannery O'Connor already, but then again, maybe not. Outbursts of violence as the result of societal repression can be a powerful theme, but it is also one so overdone that it has become predictable and calcifying in all but a few well thought out cases. As such, if the narrative and its climax consist of nothing more than White (I see the toxic masculinity turned in on itself by way of being gay, and raise you a gay-coded man of color being tossed ...more
3,5 en realidad.
George K.
Mar 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 20th-century
Ήθελα να γνωρίσω και αυτήν την μεγάλη Αμερικανίδα συγγραφέα, που είναι από τις πιο γνωστές γυναίκες συγγραφείς στο είδος του Southern Gothic (το οποίο μου αρέσει πολύ), όμως δεν βρήκα τα "Η καρδιά κυνηγάει μονάχη" και "Η μπαλάντα του λυπημένου καφενείου", που φαίνονται τα πιο ενδιαφέροντα, αλλά αυτό εδώ το μικρό μυθιστόρημα (ή μεγάλη νουβέλα), που έτυχε να μου κοστίσει μονάχα μισό ευρώ. Βρισκόμαστε σ'ένα στρατόπεδο σε κάποια αμερικάνικη πολιτεία του Νότου, τέλη δεκαετίας του '40, και παρακολουθο ...more
Batgrl (Book Data Kept Elsewhere)
Ebook, read online, via Open Library.

I was reading an essay which led me to wikipedia, and then, well as soon as I found this online I thought I'd just read a little, and then a little more - and then 30 pages into it I figured I should just give in and admit I'm reading the book. Which is odd, because originally I'd set out to read The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.

The setting is an army base in peacetime Georgia (US). For a quick version - the wikipedia page. There's a love triangle, but there's al
Sep 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I know that everybody likes The Heart is a Lonely Hunter but this small strange book is the proof of her writing chops, this book has everything. A uptight army higher up with repressed gay desires who put a cat in the mailbox, a stupid wife who don't even bother to hide her affair with her husband's army coworker who in turn has a mentally unbalanced wife cut off her nipples with garden shears An houseboy who couldn't be in the closet even if he wanted to. What a crew! this book is a look into ...more
Do you ever read a novel and love it because you are thinking all the way through, “these people are just like me. I know these folks.”? Well, Carson McCullers creates exactly the opposite of that. All through this novel you are thinking, “I’m not like this. These are not folks I know.” And then, you realize, you are and they might be. Because underneath every human being alive there is a piece that feels alien to the world and a bit that never (or seldom) gets shared. Carson just knows how to p ...more
Dec 07, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I loved The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter and The Member of the Wedding. I love McCullers's minimalist writing style.

I did not love Reflections in a Golden Eye.

It seems like a good story - a true love-triangle. (Or love-square? Maybe love-trapezoid.) Taking place on an Army base in the American South we have Captain Penderton and his wife, Leonora, and Major Langdon, his sickly wife, Alison, and their houseboy, Anacleto. Then there's Private Williams who once saw Leonora nekkid and has become a bit o
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, seen-adaptation
I'm not sure how I feel about this book. I've like almost everything McCullers has written. I only have one more novel to read of hers and I'll have read almost everything. Feels like this book is her weakest though. Her themes are there, just feels like something is missing. Maybe it's because it's about soldiers this time and not really her signature misfits. I still loved her writing.
Mar 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3'5 ⭐
Emre Han Ata
Neden bu kadar kısa tutmuş anlamış değilim. karakterler, olay hep havada kalmış. halbuki keyifle okuyordum. anlatım ve çeviri çok başarılı yalnız daha uzun olmasını dilerdim.
Pelin Su Şafak
"Normallik pahasına elde edilen herhangi bir tatmin duygusu yanlış ve bu duygunun mutluluk getirmesine izin verilmemeli. Kısacası, ahlaksal yönden onurlu olduğu için kare uçlu bir çivinin yuvarlak bir deliği kazıyıp durması ve geleneksele aykırı, kendisine uyacak kare biçimli deliği kullanmaması daha mı iyi?"
Gregory Baird
Compelling drama, but oddly cold

With its short page count, "Reflections in a Golden Eye" is more of a novella than a novel. What is disappointing about it is that it takes about fifty pages (the majority of the novella) to get involved in the characters and the plot. It starts intriguingly enough, with the promise of a murder involving the central characters ("two officers, a soldier, two women, a Filipino, and a horse."), but McCullers' prose is so cold and distant that it makes the plot inac
Jan 28, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-work
Carson McCullers is one of those authors primarily known for a single book, in her case her debut novel The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, a book probably read a good deal more than the rest of her works combined. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is the story of a town filled with flawed, sometimes even broken characters that nevertheless are able to develop friendships and care about each other. Reflections in a Golden Eye has many stylistic similarities to The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, with the town of ...more
Jan 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is a beautiful poem by the Hungarian poet János Pilinszky I really love. I think it summarises this incredible book perfectly! It goes like this:
Once upon a time
there was a lonely wolf
lonelier than the angels.

He happened to come to a village.
He fell in love with the first house he saw.

Already he loved its walls
the caresses of its bricklayers.
But the window stopped him.

In the room sat people.
Apart from God nobody ever
found them so beautiful
as this child-like beast.

So at night he went into t
Jul 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Over the age of 20, LGBT, artsy
Controversial. Reflections in a Golden Eye was made into a 1967 movie starring Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando directed by John Huston. I'm glad I knew this before I read the book because while reading the book I was picturing Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando in their respective roles. The trailer is viewable on youtube, although the trailer may seem far more melodramatic than the movie. I really expect that the book is far superior to the movie because the book probably has a lighter touch ...more
Amanda L
Subtle and intricate unrequited ties among characters without going soap-opera-y-dramatic. Each character is wholly integral to the story and is outstandingly conveyed in excerpts that are punctuated by other character illustrations. Yet each character serves as a beacon for another or a few others to elucidate their contrasting natures. How this woman can understand so much of the nuances of human psychology is utterly astounding.

Addresses masculinity and femininity and the blurred line disting
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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,
More about Carson McCullers...

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“You mean,' Captain Penderton said, 'that any fulfilment obtained at the expense of normalcy is wrong, and should not be allowed to bring happiness. In short, it is better, because it is morally honourable, for the square peg to keep scraping around the round hole rather than to discover and use the unorthodox square that would fit?'…'I don't agree” 5 likes
“La mente es como un tapiz ricamente tejido en el que los colores son dados por la experiencia de los sentimientos y el diseño por las operaciones del intelecto. La mente del soldado Williams se hallaba impregnada de diversos colores de extraños tonos, pero carecía de diseño y forma.” 2 likes
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