the heart is a lonely hunter

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The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1940) is the début novel by the American author Carson McCullers; she was 23 at the time of publication. It is about a deaf man named John Singer who does not speak, and the people he encounters in a 1930s mill town in the US state of Georgia.

The title comes from the poem "The Lonely Hunter" by the Scottish poet William Sharp, who used the pseudonym 'Fiona MacLeod': Deep in the heart of summer, sweet is life to me still, but my heart is a lonely hunter that hunts on a lonely hill.


The book begins with a focus on the relationship between two close friends, John Singer and Spiros Antonapoulous. The two are described as deaf-mutes who have lived together for several years. Antonapoulous becomes mentally ill, misbehaves, and despite attempts at intervention from Singer, is eventually put into an insane asylum away from town.

Now alone, Singer moves into a new room.


The remainder of the narrative centers on the struggles of four of John Singer's acquaintances: Mick Kelly, a tomboyish girl who loves music and dreams of buying a piano; Jake Blount, an alcoholic labor agitator; Biff Brannon, the observant owner of a diner; and Dr. Benedict Mady Copeland, an idealistic black physician.


When published, the novel created a literary sensation enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top of the bestseller lists in 1940; it was the first in a string of works by McCullers that give voice to those who are rejected, forgotten, mistreated or oppressed.


The Modern Library ranked the novel seventeenth on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. Time magazine included it in TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.