The Ballad of the Sad Café

by Carson McCullers

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Criticism

Allen, Walter. "Welty, McCullers, Taylor, Flannery O'Connor." In The Short Story in English, pp. 313-18. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981.

Argues that McCullers's "extremely idiosyncratic view of human beings" is most successfully articulated in The Ballad of the Sad Café.

Baldanza, Frank. "Plato in Dixie." The Georgia Review 12 (Summer 1958): 151-67.

Discusses the use of Platonic parables in southern fiction, remarking that the theory of love expounded by the narrator of The Ballad of the Sad Café is reminiscent of Plato's Socratic dialogue, Phaedrus (c. 5th-4th century BC).

Dodd, Wayne D. "The Development of Theme through Symbol in the Novels of Carson McCullers." The Georgia Review XVII, No. 2 (Summer 1963): 206-13.

Argues that there is "a suggestive and developmental symbolism" in McCullers's work that "always emphasizes the discreteness of individuals from each other and from God himself." Dodd notes that the half-painted house in The Ballad of the Sad Café is symbolic of McCullers's contention that human beings can have only an incomplete and partial understanding of others.

Edmonds, Dale. Carson McCullers, pp. 19-23. Austin, TX: Steck-Vaughn Company, 1969.

Discusses the musical, ballad-like elements of The Ballad of the Sad Café, arguing that the "coda" at the end counters the previous parts of the story that suggest the impossibility of love.

Evans, Oliver. "The Theme of Spiritual Isolation in Carson McCullers." New World Writing 1 (1952): 297-310.

Argues that all of McCullers's fiction reflects the essential loneliness of the human condition, and that McCullers gives this theme its most impressive treatment in The Ballad of the Sad Café.

Folk, Barbara Nauer. "The Sad Sweet Music of Carson McCullers." The Georgia Review XVI, No.1 (Spring 1962): 202-09.

Discusses the function of musical allusions in McCullers's fiction and argues that in The Ballad of the Sad Café, the prisoners in the final "coda" section transcend their chained existence through song.

Hoffman, Frederick J. "Eudora Welty and Carson McCullers." In The Art of Southern Fiction: A Study of Some Modern Novelists, pp. 68-71. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1967.

Suggests that The Ballad of the Sad Café recapitulates "the theme of willed and wilful loneliness in Mrs. McCullers's work" and that the story is superior to her earlier treatments of this theme.

Kohler, Dayton. "Carson McCullers: Variations on a Theme." College English 13 (October 1951): 1-8. Printed simultaneously in English Journal 40 (October 1951): 415-22.

Argues that The Ballad of the Sad Café reveals the structural and thematic unity of McCullers's earlier fiction.

Vande Keift, Ruth M. "The Love Ethos of Porter, Welty, and McCullers." In The Female Tradition in Southern Literature, edited by Carol S. Manning, pp. 250-56. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993.

Discusses McCullers's bisexuality and the figuring of sexual ambivalence in her fiction.

Vickery, John B. "Carson McCullers: A Map of Love." Wisconsin Studies in Contemporary Literature 1 (Winter 1960): 13-24.

Argues that The Ballad of the Sad Café is a parody of romantic love.

Walsh, Margaret. "Carson McCullers' Anti-Fairy Tale: The Ballad of the Sad Café." Pembroke Magazine 20 (1988): 43-8.

Outlines the similarities between The Ballad of the Sad Café and the fairy tale genre. Walsh argues, however, that the story ultimately subverts the notion of the redemptive power of love that informs fairy tales, commenting that the "moral seems to be that a visitor to the Sad Café should not plan to live happily ever after."

Additional coverage of McCullers's life and career is contained in the following sources published by Gale Research: Contemporary Authors, Vols. 5-8 (rev. ed.), 25-28 (rev. ed.); Contemporary Authors Bibliographical Series, Vol. 1; Concise Dictionary of American Literary Biography, 1941-1968; Contemporary Literary Criticism, Vols. 1, 4, 10, 12, 48; Discovering Authors; Discovering Authors; British; Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vols. 2, 7; Major 20th-century Authors; Something about the Author, Vol. 27; Short Story Criticism, Vol. 9; and World Literature Criticism.

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Criticism