Carson McCullers’ heroine, the boyish, quirky, imaginative Mick, comes from a rough and tumble poor background. Her only exposure to classical music is to squat outside the houses of rich people so she can listen to broadcasts coming through the open window.  This is how she encounters Beethoven’s Third Symphony.

For other powerful, moving quotations on her touching first reactions to Beethoven, see the review of McCullers’ The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, including the full quotation from which this is taken. Or simply listen to the audio recording of it alongside.  

‘But maybe the last part of the symphony was the music she loved the best – glad and like the greatest people in the world running and springing up in a hard, free way.  Wonderful music like this was the worst sort of hurt there could be.  The whole world was this symphony, and there was not enough of her to listen.’


Source: Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2008 (1940)), p. 107

Photo credit: Craig Whitehead at

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Quotation: Carson McCullers - The Heart is a Lonely Hunter - on hearing Beethoven for the first time


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