Carson McCullers: Contribution as American Novelist

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      Carson McCullers (1917-1967), is a rare woman writer whose fictional world is strange but it is still recognizable as that of O’Connor. She wrote ghost stories in the collections The Mortgaged Heart (1971) and her novella The Ballad of the Sad Cafe (1951) and also published four novels Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1940) Reflections in a Golden Eye (1941) The Member of the Wedding (1946) and Clock Without Hands (1961). Her South was another country altogether created out of all that the author had found, haunting, soft and lonely in her childhood surroundings in Georgia, it was evolved out of her own personal experience of melancholy, isolation, and occasionally, if often, illusory happiness. She believed that her life was composed of “illumination,” or moments of miraculous insight, and ‘night glare’, long periods of depression, feelings of enclosure within herself. So are the lives of her characters. The people she writes about may seem or feel strange or freakish because they belong to a marginal group. This may be because of their awkward age, their anomalous desires and grotesque appearance. A strangeness of characters simply brings into the surface.

       The secret sense of strangeness we share is what McCullers sometimes called our “lonesomeness”. So far example, The Member of the Wedding is a initiation novel in which the lonely, sensitive, twelve-year old Frankie Adams, is initiated into the simple ineradicable fact of human isolation: the perception that she can, finally be “a member of nothing”. At the heart of McCullers’s work lies the perception Frankie comes to just as the protagonist of Clock Without Hands J.J. Melone, does when learns that he has only a few months to live. Each of us, as Melone feels, it is “surrounded by a zone of loneliness.”

      The Group Theatre grew out of the Theatre Guild of New York, the leading drama company in 1920s. There are other minor women short story writers like Grace Paley (b. 1923), Alison Lurie (b. 1926), Anne Tyler (b. 1926), Ann Beattie (b. 1947), etc. Paley’s collections of stories are - The Little Disturbances of Man (1959), Enormous Changes at the Last Minute (1974), Later the Same Day (1985)- In her stories, the reader is presented with forced, feisty women and tough-minded men. The novels of Alison Lurie and Anne Tyler - Love and Friendship (1962), The War Between the Tates (1974), Foreign Affairs (1984), and Consequences (1962). Lurie has marked with satire of the lives of academics and authors. The politics of family and of the university campus, the contacts and conflicts between Americans and the English society. Taylor has ranged more widely in her novels - Earthly Possessions (1977), Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (1982), The Accidental Tourists, Beating Lessons (1988) and Digging to America (2006). People suffer separation through death and isolation of one member from another. There is a need to live more than a life of quiet desperation.

      Other some writers focused communities and especially families in crisis the writers like, Bobbie Ann Mason (b. 1940), Lee Smith (b. 1944), Ellen Gilchrist (b. 1935) Dorothy Allison (b. 1950) etc. Mason is the author of a number of remarkable stories in collections like Shiloh and Other Stories (1982) that show how she was haunted buy the people. In her novels - In Country (1988), Spence and Lilia (1988), Feather Crowns (1993) and An Atomic Romance (2006) she continues her sensitive exploration of such people, as they weave their way between a vanished past and a an uncertain future. Lee Smith has for instance, has an uncanny ear for voices and unusual range. She catches the vocal timbre of the small town in Fancy Strut (1973) and rural community in Family Linen (1985), and sensitive young women in Black Mountain Breakdown. In Ellen Gilchrist’s novels, The Voices are of the educated. But they carry in their idiom in The Annunciation (1983). In her novel Cave-dweller, Allison creates an interplay between the present and recollected voices. That is at the very surface of her writing.

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