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The Heart is A Lonely Hunter by Carson…
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The Heart is A Lonely Hunter (1940)

by Carson McCullers

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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The most fatal thing a man can do is try to stand alone. Page 302

Set against a small southern town in the United States during 1930s is the story of several people whose lives are commonly linked by their intrinsic need to be heard. Their lives are a melodic dance that criss cross back and forth, their stories mashed and meshed together, bonded by a life long yearning to hear, to be recognized, to be understood, and ultimately to belong to something greater than themselves.

Excuse me for a second while I close my wide and gaping mouth. I am still in awe and shock that McCullers is firstly a female, and secondly only twenty three years old when she wrote this masterpiece of a debut. At twenty three, my thoughts, my head space was rather self centric, entirely confined to the provinciality of trying to graduate university with my insanity intact, while she was penning a book that dealt with the universality of a basic human need to find acceptance. She was struggling to understand racial relationships in a setting that was deeply segregated and fighting to find it's own path of identity. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter may have been focused on a few people in a small town, but the scope and depth of the themes McCuller dares to tackle is anything but small. The language of loneliness permeates the entire story, it seeps and oozes from every one of the characters and brilliantly demonstrates McCuller's ability to capture the spirit of humanity in a simple but unassuming manner. Highly recommended. ( )
4 vote jolerie | Jan 19, 2015 |
There are so many well written reviews already posted by others, so I will just provide my very brief thoughts here. McCullers debut novel - impressive, worldly writing for a young 23 year-old woman! - resonates with me on a number of different levels. Her focus on the inner psyche of her characters is wonderfully accomplished. Their pains, frustrations, insecurities and indecisions are raw. McCullers makes interesting choices, using words and phrases that work and really bring home the image she is trying to conjure up for the reader. It is a story to be experienced, not just read. There is pain in the story.... a struggle and muted hopelessness that seeps out and slowly pulled me in to experience their emotions with them. There is also at times a rather frenzied pace to the writing, almost as if McCullers was racing to get the story down on paper. For me, reading this story made me think of Burghess' Olive Kitteridge, McCarthy's Suttree and Flagg's Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.... all great stories with wonderful writing and in the case of Suttree and Fried Green Tomatoes, evocative southern gothic stories of poverty.

A enduring story that will stay will me for a long, long time. ( )
1 vote lkernagh | Jan 16, 2015 |
A deceptively simple book about the loneliness of the human condition. Perseverance against the hard realities of life. Acceptance or simply realization that some things are not the way one wants. Still we try. Generosity and caring where one would not expect it. I am really impressed with this book. It boggles my mind that this is a first novel from someone so young. Started writing this at 19 and published at 23. Yikes. A rare talent. The writing in many places in here is a treasure. There are passages throughout the novel that are just a pleasure to read - little bits of insight into the human condition or descriptions of things such as the joys of discovering how to create music. I started reading this novel with a huge amount of enthusiasm, but my zest tapered off some. I think it was partly because of the sadness and melancholy I associated with numerous characters, but also simply that I think that the book was drawn out too long. I read this over the span of about two weeks. ( )
  RBeffa | Jan 16, 2015 |
Like many of the rest of you, I've been enjoying [[Carson McCullers]] this month! Thanks to the American Author Challenge, I read [The Heart is a Lonely Hunter]. Literature serves many purposes, but this is a book that does the important work of marking a place and time. Through these pages, we are taken to a small Southern town in the 1930s. The stories of a handful of characters bounce off one another and provide the texture that is necessary to illustrate the contrasts of their experiences and the enduring elements of the time. It is hard to imagine how the stories of the main characters - a mute, a Black doctor, a restaurant owner, a labor activist, a teenage girl - will cohere into a whole, but McCullers layers them to show that despite their differences, all of these individuals experience struggle and isolation. In their connections, there is a glimmer of hope, of the possibility of connection, but it is only that - a glimmer.

It is surprising that McCullers wrote this, her first novel, at the age of 23. It is a book filled with perspective and wisdom. It is also beautifully written. Consider this:

"Wonderful music like this was the worst hurt there could be. The whole world was this symphony, and there was not enough of her to listen."

Important and readable - this is a classic that deserves the label. ( )
  porch_reader | Jan 12, 2015 |
McCuller's proves to be a very observant author in her debut novel. Her fully drawn characters illustrate life in rural Atlanta in the 1940's. Much emphasis, IMO, is placed on What people know, what they think they know, what they understand and what they misunderstand and how similar they are if they only put their prejudice aside and listen, open their minds and think. Mister Singer, one of two mutes in town, walks through the story as if a silent spector observing and offering a non-functioning ear to the townsfolk and their perceived troubles. Other characters are mute too but it's not as obvious. About half way through I became a little board with it but carried on and glad I gave the whole book a chance. ( )
  Carmenere | Jan 9, 2015 |
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No matter what the age of its author, "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" would be a remarkable book. When one reads that Carson McCullers is a girl of 22 it becomes more than that. Maturity does not cover the quality of her work. It is something beyond that, somthing more akin to the vocation of pain to which a great poet is born. Reading her, one feels this girl is wrapped in knowledge which has roots beyond the span of her life and her experience. How else can she so surely plumb the hearts of characters as strange and, under the force of her creative shaping, as real as she presents—two deaf mutes, a ranting, rebellious drunkard, a Negro torn from his faith and lost in his frustrated dream of equality, a restaurant owner bewildered by his emotions, a girl of 13 caught between the world of people and the world of shadows.

Carson McCullers is a full-fledged novelist whatever her age. She writes with a sweep and certainty that are overwhelming. "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" is a first novel. One anticipates the second with something like fear. So high is the standard she has set. It doesn't seem possible that she can reach it again.
 

» Add other authors (32 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
McCullers, Carsonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bruggen, W.F.H. tenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Elst, Ad van derCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Reeves McCullers and to Marguerite and Lamar Smith
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In the town there were two mutes, and they were always together.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0618526412, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:26:06 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

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.… (more)

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