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The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1940)

by Carson McCullers

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
10,445237637 (3.96)1 / 681
Story centers around a deaf-mute in a southern town, who, because of his affliction, must "listen" and so receives the confidences of many.
1940s (5)
Romans (35)
Cooper (43)
Teens (13)

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English (214)  Spanish (6)  Catalan (4)  Dutch (3)  German (2)  French (2)  Swedish (2)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (234)
Showing 1-5 of 214 (next | show all)
I think it was the wrong book, or maybe the wrong time. But after 150 pages I'm out.
  blueskygreentrees | Jul 30, 2023 |
Part Steinbeck, part Sherwood Anderson, part Upton Sinclair—100% Great American Novel. ( )
  judeprufrock | Jul 4, 2023 |
Carson McCuller's Southern gothic novel explores the lives of several people, isolated from society by the strength of their beliefs and uniqueness of their inner lives, who are all drawn to the deaf-mute John Singer. Singer cannot respond to these people - instead he listens while they pour out their hearts. They do not consider his own hopes and dreams - even Mick, the teenager who becomes obsessed with Singer, can only know him superficially. For his part, Singer longs for the relationship with his Greek friend with whom he can sign. None of this loneliness is resolved in the novel. I love these grimy depictions of the pre-Civil Rights South, a hellscape where those with compassion and intelligence are pushed to the margins of society. ( )
  jonbrammer | Jul 1, 2023 |
I actually have mixed feelings after finishing this book. Feeling like I was invested in each of the characters, I felt like I needed more at the end. I could cry for each one through out this book and wanted different endings for each. But with each having such a strong connection with Mr. Singer, the mute, it feels like all the great hope each had for their lives and big dreams, gave up and changed direction after they lost their listener. It was interesting that 1 man who actually never spoke had such a great power in listening. I guess that is a lesson learned. ( )
  booklovers2 | Jun 23, 2023 |
30th printing
  Snowplum85 | Apr 29, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 214 (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 (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
McCullers, Carsonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boddy, KasiaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bruggen, W.F.H. tenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cartier-Bresson, HenriPhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cherry, JonesNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gelder, Molly vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
HarperAudioPublishersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Overholtzer, RobertDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Reeves McCullers and to Marguerite and Lamar Smith
First words
In the town there were two mutes, and they were always together.
Because in some men it is in them to give up everything personal at some time, before it ferments and poisons—throw it to solve human being or some human idea. They have to.
He listened, and in his face there was something and Jewish, the knowledge of one who belongs to a race that is oppressed.
Today we are not put up on the platforms and sold at the courthouse square. But we are forced to sell our strength, our time, our souls during almost every hour that we live. We have been freed from one kind of slavery only to be delivered into another. Is this freedom?  Are we yet free men?
All white people looked similar to Negroes but Negroes took care to differentiate between them. On the other hand, all Negroes looked similar to white men but white men did not bother to fix the face of a Negro in their minds.
The whole system of capitalistic democracy is—rotten and corrupt. There remain only two roads ahead. One: Fascism. Two: reform of the most revolutionary and permanent kind.
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Wikipedia in English


Story centers around a deaf-mute in a southern town, who, because of his affliction, must "listen" and so receives the confidences of many.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary
I'm Singer, you're blue.
Come up to my room and talk,
I'll just smile at you.

Legacy Library: Carson McCullers

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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