Carson McCullers

From Academic Kids

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Carsonmccullers.jpg
Carson McCullers, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1959

Carson McCullers (February 19, 1917September 29, 1967) was an American writer. She wrote fiction that explores the spiritual isolation of misfits and outcasts of the South.

"I live with the people I create and it has always made my essential loneliness less keen." – Carson McCullers
Contents

Life

She was born Lula Carson Smith in Columbus, Georgia of middle class parentage. Her mother was the granddaughter of a plantation owner and Confederate War hero. Her father, like Wilbur Kelly in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, was a watch repairman. She received a musical education and was sent to the Juilliard School of Music in New York City to study the piano – but she never attended, having lost the purse with the tuition money in it. Working menial jobs, she studied creative writing at night classes at Columbia University and Washington Square College.

In 1935 she moved to North Carolina, and in 1937 she married a soldier and struggling writer, Reeves McCullers. There she wrote her first novel The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. She separated from Reeves in 1940 (divorced 1941) and she moved again to New York to live with George Davis, the editor of Harper's Bazaar. McCullers became part of Bohemian society in New York, mixing with W. H. Auden and Benjamin Britten. She remarried Reeves in 1945, but tried to commit suicide in 1948. After Carson left him in 1953, Reeves killed himself in a Paris hotel.

She suffered from strokes since her youth, and by the age of 31 her left side was entirely paralyzed. She died of the last of a series of strokes in 1967 in Nyack, New York.

Criticism

Her writing is often described as Southern Gothic. Other critics have variously detected tragicomic or political elements in her writing.

"Miss McCullers and perhaps Mr Faulkner are the only writers since the death of D. H. Lawrence with an original poetic sensibility. I prefer Miss McCullers to Mr Faulkner because she writes more clearly; I prefer her to D. H. Lawrence because she has no message." – Graham Greene
"Moving, yes, but a minor author. And broken by illness at such a young age." – Arthur Miller

Works

Novels

Other works

  • The Ballad of the Sad Cafe (1951), a collection of short stories, including the novella The Ballad of the Sad Cafe.
  • The Square Root of Wonderful (1958), a play.
  • Sweet as a Pickle and Clean as a Pig (1964), a collection of poems.
  • The Mortgaged Heart (1972), a posthumous collection of writings, edited by her sister Rita.
  • Illumination and Night Glare (1999), her unfinished autobiography, published nearly 30 years after her death.

External Links

nl:Carson McCullers

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