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Reflections in a Golden Eye Paperback – September 8, 2000
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Again [McCullers] shows a sort of subterranean and ageless instinct for probing the hidden in men’s hearts and minds.”
The New York Herald-Tribune
"The novel is a masterpiece . . . as mature and finished as Henry James's THE TURN OF THE SCREW." Time Magazine
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The book may not have been well received critically when it was new - but time has shown McCullers' talents to be long lasting. She is truly one of the giants of 20th century literature.
The small circle of characters is individually and collectively self-destructive. There's Captain Penderton, who comes to nurse ambivalent homosexual yearnings for Private Williams, who fancies his wife. Meanwhile, Mrs Leonora Pederton is sleeping with General Langdon, whose wife, Alison, eventually succumbs to a complete breakdown of sanity. Got that? Good. It's compulsive stuff.
In this narrow social circle, author McCullers sets "normal" domestic events such as cooking delicious Southern dinners, and card evenings, against sexual episodes (both overt and latent). These range from Private Williams crouching in Mrs Penderton's room all night long to observe her sleeping naked, through to the tormentedly homosexual Captain Pemberton wrecking the body and spirit of his wife's horse on a particularly brutal ride.
In some ways, the strangest character is the Langdons' Filipino houseboy, Anacleto. Effete, devoted and fastidious to a "T", a would-be dancer and artist, he provides tragic Mrs Langdon with a kind of love. And it is Anacleto's artistic vision of a peacock with grotesque reflections in its golden eye that explains the title.
Typically of McCullers's Southern Gothicism, the writing infuses poetry with a feeling of utter menace. At times it's scarily bald, yet lyrical: "In the sky there was a white brilliant moon and the night was cold and silvery."
Some have found it too short, but I don't see that as a problem. It's a quick, chillingly stylish read that plumbs hidden psychological depths and doesn't shrink from uncomfortable truths.
Ms. McCullers keeps this story first class with her spare, though poetic language. "An army post [the story is set on a military post in the 1930's in the South] in peacetime is a dull place. Things happen, but then they happen over and over again. . . At the same time things do occasionally happen on an army post that are not likely to re-occur. There is a fort in the South where a few years ago a murder was committed. The participants of this tragedy were: two officers, a soldier, two women, a Filipino, and a horse." With those opening lines, the story begins and never slows down.
I never had an English professor who would give Carson McCullers the time of day. Her novels were too gothic, her plots unbelievable, there were too many kinks in her characters.Read more ›
As the first paragraph bluntly reveals, 'Reflections In A Golden Eye' is a tragedy involving "two officers, a soldier, two women, a Filipino, and a horse." The novel takes place on a microcosmic army base in the Deep South: and "an army post in peacetime is a dull place." Despite the insulation of the setting and the generally grotesque inner lives of the cast, the smoothly critical tone of the book suggests that McCullers' characters are largely everymen, and thus essentially no different in any specific manner from the average American man or woman.
The novel's predominant theme is the lack of self-awareness which, in the author's vision, most members of society, at all levels, enjoy or suffer. The book begs the question, "Which is the greater burden, consciousness or unconsciousness?" McCuller's answer is clear: for most people, the burden of consciousness is by far the heavier cross to bear.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I just discovered Carson McCullers. Very good book but not as good as Clock without Hands or The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.Published 9 days ago by Amazon Customer
This is a classic! You also need to watch the movie version, directed by John Huston.. starring Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando.. among others as well known.Published 16 days ago by Amazon Customer
The book discussion group discussed this short kinky novel in October 2015. We all liked this book and thought that it has plenty to recommend itself but it isn't the best... Read morePublished 3 months ago by H. Williams
Carson McCullers is absolutely one of my favorite authors. This, her second novel, is not of the caliber of "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter". Read morePublished 4 months ago by Francis C. Donnelly
2.5 of 5 stars –
I can't say that I enjoyed this novella all that much. I liked the beautiful, descriptive language that Carson McCullers used, but that was about it, and even... Read more