Carson McCullers

Josyane Savigneau, Author, Joan E. Howard, Translator Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $30 (384p) ISBN 978-0-618-13098-6
Despite her death in 1967 at the age of 50, novelist and playwright McCullers continues to inspire new works. Her recently published autobiography, Illuminations and Night Glare, a forthcoming documentary film and play about her, and a song cycle by Suzanne Vega are now joined by this revisionist biography by the author of Marguerite Yourcenar: Inventing a Life and editor of the Le Monde book supplement. Offering few new facts or revelations, Savigneau relies heavily on Virginia Spencer Carr's 1975 McCullers bio, The Lonely Hunter, though she criticizes Carr's approach as ""cold,"" and instead employs a more novelistic style, often projecting motives for McCullers's behavior. Savigneau's most significant point of departure from Carr's study is a refutation of the significance of McCullers's sexual feelings for women, of her intimate relationships with gay men and lesbians and the homosexual content of her work. Many critics have been confounded by McCullers's many obsessive attachments to unwilling female objects, though she appears to have never actually had sex with a woman, or wanted to. While Carr treats McCullers's male attire and aggressive fixations on women as an indicator of a conflicted sexual identity, Savigneau prefers to see it simply as style. While devotees will be disappointed that such details as McCullers's father's suicide are not included or explored, Savigneau's passionate identification with her subject will appeal to readers who continue to love McCullers. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/01/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
Hardcover - 503 pages - 978-2-234-02476-2
Hardcover - 384 pages - 978-0-395-87820-0
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