Monday, February 27, 2006

BOOKS: Carson McCullers and February House

I was reading February House recently.

"February House" was the title given to a shabby brownstone house on 7 Middagh Street, Brooklyn, New York. What made this little place outstanding was its famous occupants in the 1940s, which included: Jane and Paul Bowles, W. H. Auden, Carson McCullers (with her husband Reeves) and siblings Erika, Klaus and Golo Mann (children of Thomas Mann).

The February House was an experiment in artistic communal living, the initiative spearheaded by Harper's Bazaar literary editor, George Davis.

In particular, the portrayal of Carson McCullers intrigued me. It was her stint in the February House, where she enjoyed Auden's mentorship, that she wrote the novel that was to become The Member of the Wedding.

It was during a discussion with Auden, on what the poet termed the "inarticulates" of the world, the down-trodden, the ones who did not have the refinement of artistic expressions, that Carson McCullers declared that she would write of these "inarticulates."

February House made me more interested in Carson McCullers as a writer, until the irony struck me:

Why don't I just read Carson McCullers, instead of reading about her?


So I dropped February House and picked up Reflections In A Golden Eye, her second published work. What astonished me is this: Reflections was a novella written as a relaxation exercise for McCullers.


No comments: