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Reflections in a Golden Eye (Penguin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

Carson McCullers
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

29 Mar 2001 Penguin Modern Classics
McCullers' second novel, REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE, is set on a Southern army base in the 1930s, REFLECTIONS tells the story of Captain Penderton, a bisexual whose life is upset by the arrival of Major Langdon, a charming womanizer who has an affair with Penderton's tempestuous and flirtatious wife, Leonora.

Frequently Bought Together

Reflections in a Golden Eye (Penguin Modern Classics) + Clock Without Hands (Modern Classics) + The Member of the Wedding (Penguin Modern Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (29 Mar 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141184450
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141184456
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 72,575 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"The greatest prose writer that the South produced" -- Tennessee Williams "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

About the Author

Carson McCullers was born at Columbus, Georgia, in 1917. She published The Heart is a Lonely Hunter at the age of twenty-three. Her other works include Reflections in a Golden Eye (1941), The Member of the Wedding (1946), The Ballad of the Sad Café (1951), The Square Root of Wonderful (1958), a play, Clock Without Hands (1961), Sweet as a Pickle, Clean as a Pig (1964) and The Mortgaged Heart (published posthumously in 1972). She died in 1967.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars tour de force 4 May 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I picked up a copy of Reflections in a Golden Eye because I had enjoyed The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and hoped this might be as good. It is better.

Carson McCullers has that flawless limpid style found in the best 20th century American writers, but what is unusual is her capacity to take the reader into the hearts and minds of her characters, and the tenderness with which she delineates them.

One is left wondering - are these people drawn from life, or are they the product of an extraordinary imagination?

I could have done with a more thorough working out of the plot, and it is slightly disappointing that one sees pretty clearly how it is going to turn out from the beginning, but when every line is a joy to read, who cares? It has to be five stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A writer with the Midas touch 25 April 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a sensual and mythical novel written by a writer at her zenith, the themes are subtly woven like a golden thread throughout. There are so many gilded images, but they are done so as not to distract. Reading this was uncomfortable at times as the characters are painfully exposed to their reality as well as each other and McCullers writes with such frankness, even though her voice as a writers is always warm and poetic, she really tells it like it is!

I believe McCullers was attempting alchemy with this work (and succeeded), the grotesque characters glittered with promise and fascinated me so that I kept reading, and this is all because of McCullers' handling of them, as they really are unpleasant characters. Yet, I found the characters beguiling and vivid. They are hard and cold like gods turned into metal statues, and they are all trapped. Yet they can see the reflection of something they bury in themselves in the behaviours of others.

McCuller's Midas' touch extends to readers too because we are also distracted by these reflections of capacities that we have ourselves. But like in the myth of Midas one has to wonder where the characters and us as readers will get our nourishment with all the famous 'golden' descriptions of golden food and drink in this book, McCullers was aware what kind of literary feast she is offering us in a golden imitation of life. Reading can be a charmed state that offers a dangerous nostalgia for lives we never lived. There is also this dangerous nostalgia in obsessing over missed or denied opportunities as the characters do in this book. Attempts to recapture or understand joy is fool's gold, it distracts us from the real golden moment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Literature at the very front rank 5 April 2014
By Christopher H TOP 1000 REVIEWER
If this is the same territory as existentialism, which was emerging in Occupied Paris as she was writing, Carson McCullers's second novel has much in common with Stefan Zweig's Beware of Pity and Joseph Roth's The Radetzky March, those agonised tales of psychological malaise and decay in pre-WW1 Austria. Like those tales, her setting is a provincial military base in peacetime which, through lack of stimulus and numbing routine, generates a hot-house atmosphere for those stationed there. And despite a surface cheerfulness, her characters are deeply unhappy people: despite the constant talk, there is almost no communication between them.

Carson McCullers works with six characters, none especially perceptive or intelligent people, all of whom feel that life has let them down. And, when put together, these individuals relentlessly drive each other up the wall, quite deliberately playing on each other's nerves. We quickly learn there are unspoken tragedies behind it all: like the death of an infant child which they don't speak about. Unconfronted grief scars this tale.

Tennessee Williams praised this 1941 book highly as the work of a great artist. It is an assessment I agree with. Williams even felt this astonishingly accomplished work was a core text in forming the Southern Gothic (it sits alongside William Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor) because the book revolves around that intuition, that sense of "an underlying dreadfulness in modern experience." Then add to the psychological depth of the book, the quality of the prose. Each of McCullers's economical sentences is a wonder of concision - a precisely cut stone that has been uniquely shaped to slot into its place. The writing is just so deft, so tasty.

A truly marvellous novel. This is literature at the very front rank.
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