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The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter [Paperback]

Carson McCullers
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 Aug 2004
With the publication of her first novel, THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER, Carson McCullers, all of twenty-three, became a literary sensation. With its profound sense of moral isolation and its compassionate glimpses into its characters' inner lives, the novel is considered McCullers' finest work, an enduring masterpiece first published by Houghton Mifflin in 1940. At its center is the deaf-mute John Singer, who becomes the confidant for various types of misfits in a Georgia mill town during the 1930s. Each one yearns for escape from small town life. When Singer's mute companion goes insane, Singer moves into the Kelly house, where Mick Kelly, the book's heroine (and loosely based on McCullers), finds solace in her music. Wonderfully attuned to the spiritual isolation that underlies the human condition, and with a deft sense for racial tensions in the South, McCullers spins a haunting, unforgettable story that gives voice to the rejected, the forgotten, and the mistreated -- and, through Mick Kelly, gives voice to the quiet, intensely personal search for beauty. Richard Wright praised Carson McCullers for her ability "to rise above the pressures of her environment and embrace white and black humanity in one sweep of apprehension and tenderness." She writes "with a sweep and certainty that are overwhelming," said the NEW YORK TIMES. McCullers became an overnight literary sensation, but her novel has endured, just as timely and powerful today as when it was first published. THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER is Carson McCullers at her most compassionate, endearing best.

Product details

  • Paperback: 359 pages
  • Publisher: Clarion Books; 1st Mariner Books Ed edition (5 Aug 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618526412
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618526413
  • Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 14 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 419,023 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"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 ant

About the Author

Carson McCullers was born in 1917. She is the critically acclaimed author of several popular novels in the 1940s and '50s, including The Member of the Wedding (1946). Her novels frequently depicted life in small towns of the southeastern United States and were marked by themes of loneliness and spiritual isolation. McCullers suffered from ill health most of her adult life, including a series of strokes that began when she was in her 20s; she died at the age of 50. The Member of the Wedding was dramatized for the stage in the 1950s and filmed in 1952 and 1997. Other films based on her books are Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967, with Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando), The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1968, starring Alan Arkin) and The Ballad of the Sad Café (1991). --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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IN THE town there were two mutes, and they were always together. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! 4 Feb 2005
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In her brilliant debut, Carson McCullers explores what may be the central core of human existence. The pursuit of love, understanding,our connection with humanity and the devastation of lonelieness when the connection is severed or misdirected.
What if the object of your affection, the focus of your friendship, the keeper of your confidences, is an illusion?
John Singer is the means by which McCullers brings to life this conundrum. A deaf mute living in the Depression era American South, Singer only commmunicates with his deaf room mate. The problem is, his room mate has no more understanding of Singer's dreams than Singer will have of the people in the town who, because of his silence, see in him reflections of themselves.
Singer's increasing isolation leads to a devastating and heartbreaking conclusion.
There is far more to this novel than I can describe here, so get a copy and discover the beauty of this book for yourself.
The writing is beautiful, the characters exquisitely realized and it is my favorite novel of all time. It is a book I picked up when I was 13 and still revisit.
McCullers speaks for all of us and our very human condition. Her insight is made more remarkable when the reader remembers that the book was published when the author was only 23 years old.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, Wonderful Book 9 Feb 1999
By A Customer
BORING?!?! Good heavens. I read this book years ago (in high school) and I loved it. I re-read it recently, and found it even more beautiful. It takes us to the meaning of loneliness and love in ways that other books don't. If you can appreciate works that pack a lot of meaning into the limited actions of characters (It's not a thriller, gang) and ask the reader to associate rather than merely see, you'll love this book. My favorite book is a toss up between this and To Kill a Mockingbird.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is a book about the lives of a handful of very different characters in a small American town. If you had to pick a link between them you would say they were all lonely in different ways because they don't fit in with the norm. They revolve around the central character of John Singer, a deaf mute, whom they are drawn to, perhaps because he fits in least of all. This is a deep, clear look inside people's heads, its understanding of the human condition in all its various forms is all the more remarkable when you consider that the author was just 23 when it was published. She captures the life force of a drunken socialist, a young girl, a black doctor and so on, right there for you on the page. Perhaps there are one or two moments of excessive sentimentality which let this otherwise remarkable book down but for the most part it is a treasure. And in the end it pulls no punches. Having come to know the basically decent, honest people who pass through its pages you want a fairytale ending for them but there is none. Yet it's not a depressing read, not really. The language is bright and involving, there's much to identify with, and the book's faith in the power of the human spirit is infectious.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter 14 Jun 2009
Format:Mass Market Paperback
First published in the early 1940s, 'The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter' is an originally written story of small-town America with its poverty and prejudice at the core of the story. The narrative moves from one character to the other, drawing different views of the town and its people from chapter to chapter. We see the town from the perspective of a deaf-mute, an adolescent girl, a bar owner, a drunk and a black doctor. The numerous central characters are drawn into focus by a number of grim incidents that change the town and the relationships of its inhabitants. The novel is a great example of fine prose writing that draws the reader into its fragile world and is an essential text for anyone interested in 20th century American literature.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, sad and funny 2 April 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The lives of a number of outsiders in a small town in the American south cross and recross without the character's alienness or isolation ever being relieved. Watch for the comical clash between the two Marxists: an intellectual doctor and a radical worker who can't agree on anything.
At the novel's heart is John Singer (a desperately ironic choice of name), a deaf man who choses also to be mute. The eyes of his blind companion, he is also the confessor of the town's other lonely people, who find fruitless comfort in his patient attention.
The prose is astonishingly beautiful and the mood of the novel stays with the reader for days afterwards. Deeper and more moving than "The Ballad of the Sad Café", this is probably Carson McCullers's best work.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, lyrical, moving book 29 Nov 2004
This is quite simply one of the most beautiful novels I have read, and a great work of modern American literature. Carson McCullers' writing is deft yet delicate, and she paints a portrait of small town life with brilliant clarity. The characters, whilst being ordinary people, are shown to be extraordinary in simply being who they are. A very moving and intelligent work.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest books ever written. 27 Sep 2001
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
To say that The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is one of the greatest books ever written, is not hyperbole. This novel truely is a staggering work. I have found myself alluding to it, countless times in the eight years since I read it first. It has illuminated my understanding of relationships and interdependancy. Mrs McCullers must rank alongside Forster, Lawrence, Naipaul and Conrad as one of the great exporers of the dark and lonely soul.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 1 day ago by xxx
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Book in great condition
Published 21 days ago by mrs a j fotheringhame
3.0 out of 5 stars quite boring
I did not know where it was going, quite boring
Published 24 days ago by Camilla R Wemyss
4.0 out of 5 stars Review
Hard to delve into but absorbing once into it. A deep and sad statement on the lives of these individuals during tough economic times. Read more
Published 7 months ago by wendy scalinger
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful novel marred in the telling (Kindle version)
Death of a thousand paper cuts to the once mighty Penguin for charging full price for this Kindle book. Read more
Published 7 months ago by My Lovely Horse
3.0 out of 5 stars Loved it until the story turned
This was a reading group choice and I thoroughly enjoyed it until the point where everything turned. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Mrs Cynthia M W Cain
3.0 out of 5 stars Surprised so many persevered to the end.
I was lent this by someone who liked it very much, and for that reason, I plodded on with it. The last hundred pages or so weren't so bad, but although the author has a fluid and... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Mrs. M. Connolly
1.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book, but dreadful e-book
To give "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" just one star is perhaps misleading. It is one of my favourite books and ordinarily would receive four or five stars from me. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Jules
5.0 out of 5 stars A Southern small town in the 1930s
Carson McCullers was only twenty-three when her first novel was published in 1940. The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter is a quite remarkable story of loneliness in an unnamed Southern... Read more
Published 14 months ago by DT
5.0 out of 5 stars A 20th Century Classic
There are certain 20th Century writers who tower above all others and Carson McCullers is one of them. I have only read this book by McCullers an d I understand that already. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Stuart Tomanek
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