McCullers, Carson

McCullers, Carson
orig. Lula Carson Smith

born Feb. 19, 1917, Columbus, Ga., U.S.
died Sept. 29, 1967, Nyack, N.Y.

U.S. novelist and short-story writer.

She studied at Columbia and New York universities and eventually settled in New York's Greenwich Village. A series of strokes she suffered as a child left her partly paralyzed. She typically set her stories in small Southern communities and depicted the inner lives of lonely people. Her novels include The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1940), perhaps her finest work; Reflections in a Golden Eye (1941); The Member of the Wedding (1946), which she adapted into a play (1950); and The Ballad of the Sad Café (1951), dramatized by Edward Albee in 1963. Each of these was adapted for film.

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▪ American author
née  Lula Carson Smith 
born Feb. 19, 1917, Columbus, Ga., U.S.
died Sept. 29, 1967, Nyack, N.Y.

      American writer of novels and stories that depict the inner lives of lonely people.

      At age 17 Lula Carson Smith, whose father was a modestly successful jeweler in Columbus, Ga., went to New York City to study at Columbia and New York universities, and in 1937 she married Reeves McCullers, a writer whom she had met in Georgia and with whom she was to have a long and complicated relationship. They divorced in 1940 after he was found to have forged some of her royalty checks but remarried in 1945. Her life after that was clouded by pain, illness, and tragedy. She fell in love at least twice with women who did not reciprocate her feelings and once with a man who also interested her husband. Repeated strokes incapacitated her for long periods, and partial paralysis confined McCullers to a wheelchair in her later years.

      Her achievement as a writer—a career that was successfully launched by her first novel, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1940; filmed 1968)—was the outgrowth of her own character and lonely suffering. The novel concerns four inhabitants of a small town in Georgia—an adolescent girl with a passion to study music, an unsuccessful socialist agitator, a black physician struggling to maintain his personal dignity, and a widower who owns a café. Reflections in a Golden Eye (1941; filmed 1967), a shorter work set in a Southern army post that chronicles the unhappy life of a captain (a latent homosexual) and his wife (a nymphomaniac), confirmed McCullers's earlier success.

      During the 1940s McCullers met American playwright Tennessee Williams (Williams, Tennessee), and they became friends. Williams encouraged her to make a play of her novel The Member of the Wedding (1946), a sensitive portrayal of a lonely adolescent whose attachment to her brother precipitates a crisis at his wedding. The novel proved to be her most popular work, and it was equally successful as a play, heralded by some as a new form of American theatre because of its emphasis on character interaction and psychology. The Broadway version ran for more than a year and was made into a movie in 1952.

      McCullers's fictional characters endure various physical and psychological handicaps that complicate their natural but often bizarre searches for compassion. Her novels and stories demonstrate a Southern gothic embrace of the eccentric and combine examinations of relationships between people, reflections on such subjects as the inherent incompatibility of the lover and the beloved, and a profound sense of the human longing to connect with others. She felt her characters powerfully, once stating that “I live with the people I create and it has always made my essential loneliness less keen.” Her other works include The Ballad of the Sad Café (1951), the drama The Square Root of Wonderful (1958), and the novel Clock Without Hands (1961). Her Collected Stories appeared in 1987, and Illumination and Night Glare: The Unfinished Autobiography of Carson McCullers, segmented and with large lacunae, was published in 1999.

Additional Reading
Biographies include Josyane Savigneau, Carson McCullers: A Life (2001; originally published in French, 1995); Oliver Evans, Carson McCullers: Her Life and Work (1965; also published as The Ballad of Carson McCullers, 1966); and Lawrence Graver, Carson McCullers (1969). Critical works include Richard M. Cook, Carson McCullers (1975, reissued 1984); Harold Bloom (ed.), Carson McCullers (1986); Virginia Spencer Carr, Understanding Carson McCullers (1989); and Nancy B. Rich, The Flowering Dream: The Historical Saga of Carson McCullers (1999).

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • McCullers, Carson — orig. Lula Carson Smith (19 feb. 1917, Columbus, Ga., EE.UU.–29 sep. 1967, Nyack, N.Y.). Novelista y cuentista estadounidense. Estudió en las universidades de Columbia y de Nueva York, y finalmente se radicó en Greenwich Village en Nueva York.… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • McCullers,Carson Smith — Mc·Cul·lers (mə kŭlʹərz), Carson Smith. 1917 1967. American writer whose fiction explores the spiritual isolation of misfits and outcasts of the South. Her novels include The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1940) and The Member of the Wedding (1946). * …   Universalium

  • McCullers, Carson —  (1917–1967) American novelist and playwright …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • McCullers, Carson —    см. Маккалерс, Карсон …   Писатели США. Краткие творческие биографии

  • Carson Mc Cullers — Carson McCullers Carson McCullers Carson McCullers en 1959, photographiée par Carl Van Vechten Nom de naissance …   Wikipédia en Français

  • MCCULLERS (C.) — MCCULLERS CARSON (1917 1967) Lorsqu’elle publia, en 1940, Le cœur est un chasseur solitaire , Carson McCullers avait vingt trois ans et «l’air d’une toute jeune fille montée en graine, avec ses petits bas rouges au dessous des genoux, son long… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Carson McCullers — en 1959, photographiée par Carl Van Vechten Nom de naissance Lula Carson Smith …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Carson (given name) — Carson is a given name, and may refer to: *Carson Daly *Carson Kressley *J. Carson Mark *Carson McCullers *Carson K. Miller *Carson Palmer *Carson Robison, American country music singer and songwriter;Fictional persons *Carson Beckett, character… …   Wikipedia

  • McCullers — (Carson Smith) (1917 1967) romancière américaine: Le coeur est un chasseur solitaire (1940), Reflets dans un oeil d or (1941) …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Carson McCullers — noun United States novelist (1917 1967) • Syn: ↑McCullers, ↑Carson Smith McCullers • Instance Hypernyms: ↑writer, ↑author * * * Carson McCullers [ …   Useful english dictionary

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