To those who study her work, as well as to the public in general, Carson McCullers remains an enigma. Becoming a world-famous novelist by her middle twenties must have been quite a shock for a young woman from a small town. As she said to Rex Reed in her last interview, “I became an established literary figure overnight, and I was much too young to understand what happened to me or the responsibility it entailed. I was a bit of a holy terror. That, combined with all my illnesses, nearly destroyed me.” Her literary career followed a stunningly productive decade, followed by twenty years in which she produced, comparatively, very little. This is generally attributed to the fact that she suffered from a series of debilitating physical conditions, including partial paralysis induced by stroke, breast cancer, and accidental injuries. These were further complicated by an array of psychological problems, including, according to some accounts, severe depression, suicidal tendencies, alcoholism, and a destructive, codependent relationship with the man she married twice, Reeves McCullers, who committed suicide in 1953Less
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