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Book Title: Reflections in a Golden Eye|
The author of the book: Carson McCullers
Edition: Mariner Books
Date of issue: September 8th 2000
ISBN 13: 9780618084753
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 617 KB
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Reader ratings: 5.6
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An impending sense of dread interlaces the lives of five characters set on an army base in the American South of the 1930s. They are all prey of the remorse that goes along with secret liaisons, inner frustrations and repressed sexual preferences. With the rigidness of the secluded military system and the inherent loneliness in hermetic marriages imposed by social convention as a backdrop, resentments and obsessions will fester in contained aggressiveness and will inevitably escalate towards a virulent eruption.
Captain Penderton wrestles against his strong attraction to men in self-loathing while his wife Leonora has an affair with Major Morris Langdon.
Officer Williams performs nocturnal voyeuristic rituals in a state of trance revealing his suppressed fascination for the female sex.
Alison Langdon’s mental state is fragile after a traumatic event and is repelled by her husband’s dalliance with Leonora.
Worthy of a Tennessee Williams’ play, these excessively temperamental, anomalous and aimless characters drawn in opaque languidness live locked within self-imposed isolation and disguise their torments with overwrought refinement and menacing politeness. The title of this novelette Reflections in a Golden Eye evokes the mismatched glances, the missed opportunities of crossed looks that never found each other. It’s in the eye where the seed of unresolved passions remains embedded, where a primal and inexplicable fixation for the other is fostered, where unconsummated lust clouds discernment in the threshold of desire.
“A peacock of a sort of ghastly green. With one immense golden eye. And in it the reflections of something tiny and (…) grotesque.” (86)
The symphonic motifs played in “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” are revisited in this novella. They might be accused of lacking in thematic magnitude if compared to McCullers' opera prima but the dismal melody of her prose seeps in relentlessly, subjugating the reader, taking him to the pit of human desolation and leaving him alone with the discordant echoes of characters who live trapped within themselves and are incapable to communicate in a claustrophobic setting, which in turn gives shape to the ongoing metaphor that condemns the societal hierarchy of the American South of the thirties. Yes, we have encountered this theme before but the masterful precision in design and the deliberate structure of the work at hand that leads to a dramatically distilled outcome offers a nuanced reading experience of a more reflective order than McCullers’ famous masterpiece. The result is this brutal short story, which is much more than a “Greek Tragedy” played by misshapen creatures. It is a mirror refracting the Sense of absolute Dread that plagues mankind’s existence and dyes inexorable darkness with forged gold.
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Read information about the authorCarson McCullers was an American who wrote fiction, often described as Southern Gothic, that explores the spiritual isolation of misfits and outcasts of the South.
From 1935 to 1937 she divided her time, as her studies and health dictated, between Columbus and New York and in September 1937 she married an ex-soldier and aspiring writer, Reeves McCullers. They began their married life in Charlotte, North Carolina where Reeves had found some work. There, and in Fayetteville, North Carolina, she wrote her first novel, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, in the Southern Gothic tradition.
The title, suggested by McCullers's editor, was taken from Fiona MacLeod's poem "The Lonely Hunter." However, many (including Carson McCullers) claim she wrote in the style of Southern Realism, a genre inspired by Russian Realism. The novel itself was interpreted as an anti-fascist book. Altogether she published eight books.
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1940), written at the age of twenty-three, Reflections in a Golden Eye (1941), and The Member of the Wedding (1946), are the best-known. The novella The Ballad of the Sad Cafe (1951) also depicts loneliness and the pain of unrequited love. She was an alumna of Yaddo in Saratoga, New York.
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter was filmed in 1968 with Alan Arkin in the lead role. Reflections in a Golden Eye was directed by John Huston (1967), starring Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor. Some of the film was shot in New York City and on Long Island, where Huston was permitted to use an abandoned Army installation.
Many of the interiors and some of the exteriors were done in Italy. "I first met Carson McCullers during the war when I was visiting Paulette Goddard and Burgess Meredith in upstate New York," said Huston in An Open Book (1980).
"Carson lived nearby, and one day when Buzz and I were out for a walk she hailed us from her doorway. She was then in her early twenties, and had already suffered the first of a series of strokes. I remember her as a fragile thing with great shining eyes, and a tremor in her hand as she placed it in mine. It wasn't palsy, rather a quiver of animal timidity. But there was nothing timid or frail about the manner in which Carson McCullers faced life. And as her afflictions multiplied, she only grew stronger."
After lifelong health problems including severe alcoholism, McCullers died of brain hemorrhage.
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