The Big Read Blog (Archive)


January 14, 2009
Washington, DC

This month Anderson Arts Center in Anderson, South Carolina is celebrating The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, published when author Carson McCullers was only 23. (Visit for a calendar of events for Anderson's Big Read.) Here's a brief excerpt from an essay on the novel's music from The Big Read Reader's Guide.

Carson McCullers once compared The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter to a three-part fugue -- a technique in musical composition that evolved during the 17th century. A fugue begins with a single voice expressing a theme, which other distinct voices restate as they enter one at a time. Like a skilled conductor, McCullers understood that each voice must define itself while simultaneously enhancing those around it.

. . . The novel's rhythmic language is sometimes harmonious -- as in the sweet, sad duets between Mick and Singer -- and at other times cacophonous, as in Jake and Dr. Copeland's final argument. But McCuller's prose also gives us silence -- in Singer, and in what she leaves to our imagination.