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The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson…
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The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (original 1940; edition 2004)

by Carson McCullers

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,271188588 (3.96)1 / 609
Member:appumjoseph
Title:The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
Authors:Carson McCullers
Info:Mariner (2004), Edition: 1st Mariner Books Ed, Paperback, 359 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
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The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (1940)

1940s (12)
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English (174)  Spanish (4)  Catalan (3)  Swedish (2)  French (1)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (186)
Showing 1-5 of 174 (next | show all)
It is, of course, a great book, and a terrific example of Southern Gothic. Put it on the shelf next to Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor. But it is so sad, so hopeless. I kept looking for a ray of light at the end, but never found one. McCullers was only 23 when it was published, and the sense of adolescent despair is palpable. No one can despair like a nineteen year old. ( )
  JanetNoRules | Sep 17, 2018 |
Another addition to my list of "Classics I Never Read in School". Amazingly beautiful and insightful writing by a 22/23 year old writer. This is a Southern novel, but it is really a novel about loneliness. I can see why this novel is often assigned in school as it gives the reader a lot to ponder, and is easily open to many differing interpretations. Good for insightful book clubs! ( )
  Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
"An exquisite talent and a fascinating mind"
By sally tarbox on 18 July 2018
Format: Kindle Edition
This is an absolutely superb work that leaves the reader astounded that a twenty-three year old could produce such profound writing.
It's not like anything I've ever read - like a Hopper painting in book form!
Set in a small town in America's Deep South, this takes place over a year as the storm clouds of World War 2 are looming. But while occasional mention is made of it, the residents have more pressing problems - oppression of the poor, racial inequality, their own feelings.
The central character, who brings it all together, is Mr Singer, a deaf mute. As a sounding board for others' problems, they seem to gravitate to him: a left-wing activist with a drink problem, who fulminates over social injustice; a Black doctor who has devoted his life to trying to improve the lot of his people (to the detriment of his own family life.) A dreamy, yearning adolescent daughter of an impoverished family. And a lonely diner owner. Singer seemed to me to be a sort of Christ figure and confessor, each of his friends imagining perfect understanding of his issues. But when they all visit simultaneously, there is hostility between them (one thinks of different sects, each informed by the same central tenet of belief and yet angrily dismissive of other views.)
Singer himself has a tough life though; when his friend (and fellow deaf-mute) is declared insane and institutionalized, Singer's life seems to revolve around occasional visits and OTT gifts to what sems a very undeserving individual. Despite those around him, we feel Singer too is extremely lonely.
All the big themes are here: what's it all about? Is everything a big waste of time? It's absolutely superb and would have been a worthy Nobel Prize winner! ( )
1 vote starbox | Jul 17, 2018 |
It is hard to say anything about this novel that has not already been said time and time again. Carson McCullers moves gently through her world, picks at the souls of its inhabitants, and lays them bare for all of us to see. And we know they are true, and we know they are real, and we mourn for how well we know them and how little they know of one another.

John Singer, a deaf mute, becomes the pivot around which the other characters orbit, and because he is silent they are each able to project onto him their beliefs and desires. Each has an extreme need to be understood and each is convinced that Singer is the one man who can and does understand them. Ironically, Singer uses his friend Antonopoulos in the same fashion.

Mick, it seems to me, is the one ray of hope in this bleak landscape. She has dreams that have not been trodden down, she loves music, she has an inner world where she can escape the oppression of her circumstances. The other characters, Biff, Blount, Copeland, are all past the dream. They already know that their past is their future and their future is raw and frozen. When Mick's future is lost and she can no longer access her "inner room", the desolation is complete. Carson seems to be telling us that the isolation is inevitable. Perhaps we are destined to misread and misunderstand one another and never find any common ground that links us at the fundamental level that is our humanity. ( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
I loved the author’s ”Ballad of a sad café” and I liked “The Member of the Wedding” but I found this, her first novel rather difficult to get into and fully appreciate.

The young girl, Mick, is reminiscent of Frankie, the protagonist of The Member of the Wedding, but I didn’t feel I got to know her, as I did Frankie.

The main character seems to be Singer, a deaf mute, whom everyone loves to visit and tell their troubles to. He “listens” quietly to all they have to say. I find him, too, hard to get to know since he didn’t say anything.

Jake is a drunk, who is hard to appreciate, though if I’d kept on to the end of the book, this might have changed.

Perhaps the most likeable character is the black doctor, Dr. Copeland, who is industrious and lovingly attentive to his patients to the point of exhaustion. However, he doesn’t get on with his grownup children, who didn’t and don’t listen to him and didn’t do what he had wanted them to do with their lives.

If I’d persevered with the book, I probably would have got much more out of it.

It was highly acclaimed when it first appeared and, like this gifted author’s other works, is beautifully written.
  IonaS | Jun 21, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 174 (next | show all)
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 (26 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
McCullers, Carsonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boddy, KasiaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gelder, Molly vanTranslatorsecondary 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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Haiku summary
I'm Singer, you're blue.
Come up to my room and talk,
I'll just smile at you.

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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:28 -0400)

(see all 5 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)

(summary from another edition)

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