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The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter Paperback – April 21, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner; 1st Mariner Books Ed edition (April 21, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618526412
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618526413
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (496 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,047 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“To me the most impressive aspect of THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER is the astonishing humanity that enables a white writer, for the first time in Southern fiction, to handle Negro characters with as much ease and justice of those of her own race. This cannot be accounted for stylistically or politically; it seems to stem from an attitude toward life.” -- Richard Wright

"When one puts [this book] down, it is with . . . a feeling of having been nourished by the truth." --May Sarton

"A remarkable book . . . [McCullers] writes with a sweep and certainty that are overwhelming." The New York Times

"Quite remarkable . . . McCullers leaves her characters hauntingly engraved in the reader's memory." The Nation

"To me the most impressive aspect of 'The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter' is the astonishing humanity that enables a white writer, for the first time in Southern fiction, to handle Negro characters with as much ease and justice as those of her own race." -- Richard Wright New Republic

"One cannot help remarking that this is an extraordinary novel to have been written by a young woman of twenty-two; but the more important fact is that it is an extraordinary novel in its own right, considerations of authorship apart." -- Saturday Review of Literature Saturday Review

"The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter has remarkable power, sweep and certainty . . . Her art suggests a Van Gogh painting peopled with Faulkner figures." The New York Times Book Review

"Sensitively conceived and expertly told . . . Its quality as writing and the intensity of its theme combine to make it one of the outstanding novels of recent years." --Times-Picayune

"Besides telling a good story, the author has peopled it with a small group of characters so powerfully drawn as to linger long in memory." Philadelphia Inquirer

"[McCullers] writes with a calm and factual realism, and with a deep and abiding insight into human psychology. She does so without an iota of vulgarity and bawdiness, in a manner which many a present day novelist would do well to study." Boston Globe

"There is not only the delicately sensed need that one might expect youth to know but an even more delicately sensed ironic knowledge." The Chicago Tribune

"The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter is a miracle of compassion, pity, and irony. Form and matter are perfectly blended in the novel." --Virginia Quarterly Review

From the Inside Flap

When she was only twenty-three, Carson  McCullers's first novel created a literary sensation. She  was very special, one of America's superlative  writers who conjures up a vision of existence as  terrible as it is real, who takes us on shattering  voyages into the depths of the spiritual isolation  that underlies the human condition. This novel is  the work of a supreme artist, Carson McCullers's  enduring masterpiece. The heroine is the strange  young girl, Mick Kelly. The setting is a small  Southern town, the cosmos universal and eternal.  The characters are the damned, the voiceless, the  rejected. Some fight their loneliness with  violence and depravity, Some with sex or drink, and some  -- like Mick -- with a quiet, intensely personal  search for beauty.

More About the Author

Carson McCullers (1917-1967) was the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, The Member of the Wedding, Reflections in a Golden Eye, and Clock Without Hands. Born in Columbus, Georgia, on February 19, 1917, she became a promising pianist and enrolled in the Juilliard School of Music in New York when she was seventeen, but lacking money for tuition, she never attended classes. Instead she studied writing at Columbia University, which ultimately led to The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, the novel that made her an overnight literary sensation. On September 29, 1967, at age fifty, she died in Nyack, New York, where she is buried.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Linda Linguvic HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 24, 2002
Format: Paperback
This 1940 novel by Carson McCullers is set in a small southern town. It's about five different people and their relationships to each other. There is surface structure inasmuch as the chapters move back and forth, focusing on one character and then another and moving the action forward. But there's an appealing off-center feeling to it all, as this study in what it means to be a human being reflects the human condition without having to tie it all up in a neat little package.
Driving the story is John Singer, a deaf mute. When his friend Sprios, a fellow deaf mute, goes insane, John Singer attracts other alienated people, who pour their hearts out to him, believing that he understands everything. There's Jake, who drinks hard, requires constant stimulation of his senses to feel alive, and views the world though a communist philosophy. There's Dr. Copeland, a black physician, who so wants to improve the condition of his race, that he has driven his wife and children away because they never fit the picture of the way he wanted them to be. There's Mick, the adolescent girl, introspective and intuitive, who dreams of a future filled with music and travel. And then there is Biff, the owner of the Café, who collects old newspapers and tries to make sense out of what is going on around him. Everyone feels that the deaf-mute has some sort of magical presence. But yet, he too, proves to be very human.
The town itself is important to the story, and Ms. McCullers' makes use of the rhythms of the seasons and of music to bring the reader right there. The coming-of-age of the adolescent made me sad and the realities of racism caused me to cringe in horror. The alienation is deeply frustrating. This is exemplified by one very moving scene where two men debate how to handle injustices.
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105 of 114 people found the following review helpful By Robert G Yokoyama VINE VOICE on April 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter is one of the best novels I've read in a while. I loved the way Carson McCullers develops the characters in this book. Loneliness and racial injustice are two timeless themes in this novel that McCullers presents so well. McCullers was a white woman writing about how black people were mistreated and felt oppressed in 1940. She was an author truly ahead of her time in that way.
All the characters are so memorable in this book. Biff Brannon is a compassionate cafe owner. He helps anyone in need by giving them either food, money or a job. Brannon becomes a widower when his wife dies suddenly of a tumor. Mick Kelly is a lonely but intelligent 12 year old girl from a poor family with a passion for music. Doctor Copeland is a black physician. He becomes a crusader for racial justice when his son goes to jail. McCullers explains the basic principles of Karl Marx's economic theory in the novel by putting in a lecture by Copeland in the novel to show how society is divided between the rich and poor people. I knew nothing about Karl Marx's ideas, so I thought this part of the novel was very interesting. Another memorable character is John Singer. He is a man who does not have the ability to speak. However, he becomes the person all the characters eventually confide all their problems to. Singer communicates with his long time room mate and only deaf friend by using sign language. The relationship and love between these two deaf friends is one of the best things about this novel.
The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter is one of the best books Oprah has ever chosen for her book club. The themes of loneliness and racial injustice are timeless and universal. The characters are very memorable too. I loved reading this book.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Diane Schirf on May 31, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers. Highly recommended.
Only 23 when she wrote The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers captures the restless energy of adolescence and the loneliness and isolation of those who choose not to fit into their world-Mick Kelly, an artistic teenager whose titles and graffiti reveal a darker side to her personality; Jake Blount, an itinerant socialist; Benedict Mady Copeland, a consumptive black physician; and Biff Brannon, owner of the New York Café. Linking this disparate group of outsiders is the ironically named John Singer, a man who cannot talk (or sing). They are drawn to him, as lonely people are to someone they believe will listen and understand. They never step out of themselves to discover that Singer listens, but he doesn't understand, nor do they realise that he, too, is lonely and isolated-or why.
Just as these four impose their concept of Singer upon him, he has his own idol-his companion of 10 years, Spiros Antonapoulos. While Singer's lonely friends project upon him the character of a wise, knowing, understanding man, Singer in turn imposes a similar personality on Antonapoulos. His life revolves around his rare visits to the asylum to which Antonapoulos is eventually taken. As the reader's awareness of Antonapoulos as a childish, greedy, and lazy man grows, so grows Singer's faith in him as gentle and wise. As a fellow mute, Antonapoulos is all Singer has, so he both idealises and idolises him-in the same way that Mick, Blount, Copeland, and, to a lesser extent, Brannon idealise and idolise Singer.
Rarely do any of the four interact, except when Blount and Dr. Copeland engage in a circular argument about how best to help their peoples-victims of capitalism in Blount's case, blacks in Dr. Copeland's.
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