By Nava Atlas | On July 9, 2023 | Updated July 16, 2023 | Comments (0)
Reflections in a Golden Eye (1941) by Carson McCullers suffered a fate common to sophomore efforts that follow hugely successful first novels. Just twenty-three when her first novel, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, came out the year before (1940), it established her as a literary wunderkind.
Reflections in a Golden Eye, conversely, received mostly poor reviews, critics unsure of what to make of the young author’s use of the literary device termed “the grotesque” in fiction — a hallmark of fellow Southern author Flannery O’Connor and others.
McCullers’ work was primarily associated with the genre of Southern Gothic, which the Oxford Research Encyclopedia defines as follows: “Characteristics of Southern Gothic include the presence of irrational, horrific, and transgressive thoughts, desires, and impulses; grotesque characters; dark humor, and an overall angst-ridden sense of alienation.”