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The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter Paperback – April 21, 2004
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100 Young Adult Books to Read in a Lifetime
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"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
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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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Mick is the most compelling character. Her transition from child to young woman draws you into both of her worlds: inside and outside. Read morePublished 14 days ago
I really liked this book at the very beginning. the middle drug on some and was surprised at how it ended. Makes you grateful for your health and all your blessings!Published 16 days ago by Linda Robinson
I found it extremely boring. Waist of time. I didn't think that this book has touched my heart even slightly.Published 19 days ago by Dominika Kobylinska
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is wonderfully written. It covers big topics, such as racism in the depression era south, but never seems to force the author's views on the reader. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Steven R. Lindahl
Didn't much care for the book. In my opinion, it didn't go anywhere and nothing was solved. I would have liked it better if it had followed some of the characters in depth.Published 2 months ago by Joyce
Hard to find a character you might like. Really depressing. Regardless of being a classic, I think most readers have better choices to read (even including Harper Lee's Go Set a... Read morePublished 3 months ago by looseknees
Delivered very promptly in excellent condition and at a good price. One of the great American short novels, and considerably deeper than the movie version starring Sandra Locke.Published 3 months ago by Bernard Sussman