Carson McCullers explores love and loneliness in Southern Gothic works

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — Carson McCullers is widely considered one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. Evidence of her childhood in Columbus, Georgia informs many of her works, including The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1940), which was made into a film in 1968 and became a #1 New York Times bestseller in 2004 after being selected by Oprah Winfrey for her book club.

“[She] “She grew up in Columbus and most of her novels are set in a fictional version of Columbus, Georgia,” said Nick Norwood, director of the Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians at Columbus State University (CSU).

McCullers was born Lula Carson Smith in Columbus in 1917. While she spent most of her teenage years as a pianist, taking lessons from a teacher at Fort Benning, She also developed an interest in writing. By the time she graduated from Columbus High School, McCullers had decided to go to New York City for her writing career, although she claimed to be studying piano.

Beginning in 1934, she studied writing at Columbia and New York University, but after her recovery, illnesses returned to Columbus several times. McCullers published her first short story, “Prodigy,” in 1936.

While in Columbus, McCullers met a soldier stationed at Fort Benning who was also an aspiring writer named Reeves McCullers. Although the two married in 1937 and moved to New York, the relationship was turbulent.

“From the beginning, the marriage was plagued by alcoholism, sexual ambivalence (both were bisexual), and Reeves’ envy of McCullers’ writing skills,” the book says New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Over the next 15 years, McCullers and her husband experienced a series of separations and reconciliations. At one point both were involved in a romantic relationship with the composer David Diamond, who lived with McCullers in New York in a house with Harper’s Bazaar publisher George Davis and the poet WH Auden, among other notable creatives of the time.

Elements of love triangles, explorations of sexuality, and themes of loneliness reminiscent of McCullers’ experiences permeate the author’s work, which includes The Member of the Wedding (1946) and Reflections in a Golden Eye (1941).

While in Paris in 1953, Reeves took his own life after an attempt to convince McCullers to commit suicide with him failed. McCullers returned to New York and wrote the play The Square Root of Wonderful, her book Clock Without Hands and a collection of children’s poems.

According to CSU, McCullers’ body of work is “small but significant.” Over the course of her life, the author published five novels, 20 short stories, and more, including an unfinished autobiography published posthumously in 1999.

“Carson McCullers’ adult life was a mixture of emotional unhappiness and poor health,” he said University of Georgia (UGA) Georgia Writers Hall of Fame. it says: “But with shining talent, she used her empathy and experience to compose resonant, ballad-like stories about the inner lives of marginalized, often physically or psychologically scarred characters tormented by loneliness.”

Although McCullers spent most of her adult life in New York and abroad, many of her stories are set in the South and her works are largely considered Southern Gothic literature.

McCullers died in 1967 after a stroke that left her in a coma. According to the Carson McCullers Center, the author had suffered strokes since she was 24, resulting from untreated childhood rheumatic fever website.

“She’s world famous, Carson McCullers is,” said Norwood, who is currently working with a filmmaker to make a documentary about the author. “I want the people of Columbus to recognize that and realize that this famous writer came from our small town and used this city as material for her work.”

Laura Coffey

Laura Coffey is a Worldtimetodays U.S. News Reporter based in Canada. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Laura Coffey joined Worldtimetodays in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

Related Articles

Back to top button