Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Essential Flannery O'Connor

Since I read my first Flannery O'Connor story, I think it was "Everything That Rises Must Converge" I was hooked. Brilliant, devastating, insightful, and razor sharp describe her fiction, her personality, her wit. And I have not even gotten to her quotes. Born Mary Flannery O'Connor, she dropped the "Mary" when she began publishing because she thought that no one would want to read the tales of an old Irish washerwoman. Using Flannery certainly gave her instant mystique but even the tales of an old Irish washerwoman could not have been kept by prejudice from a faithful audience.

She died tragically young from Lupus at the age of 39. She raised peacocks and lived on her mother's farm. And she wrote.

A decided and unabashed Catholic some of her most famous quotes:

I write the way I do because (not though) I am a Catholic....I think that the Church is the only thing that is going to make the terrible world we are coming to endurable; the only thing that makes the Church endurable is that it is somehow the body of Christ and that on this we are fed. It seems to be a fact that we suffer as much from the Church as for it but if you believe in the Divinity of Christ, you have to cherish the world at the same time you struggle to endure it."

What people don't realize is how much religion costs. They think Faith is a big electric blanket when of course it is the cross.

And finally:

I am one of the laymen who resist the congregation yapping out the Mass in English & my reason besides neurotic fear of change, anxiety, and laziness is that I do not like the raw sound of the human voice in unison unless it is under the discipline of music...

A life lived too short, a lost talent the world mourns, a female William Faulkner, her convictions solidly loyal to the Faith. No one who writes fiction does not wish to be her.

This Italian website (badly translated) has some of the most beautiful pictures of Flannery including childhood pictures. Most often we see Flannery depicted as a dowdy, dire, matronly and joyless frump. Anyone who would depict her that way will never know the joy in life that lived by the truly sarcastic. She raised sarcasm to the level of an art. What Shakespeare was to the Tragedy, she was to the satire.


qlinger said...

I have never been impressed with O'Connor. I remeber being about sixteen when I first started reading her and being horrified. I am not sure why you like her so much.

Rob said...

I like Flannery O'Connor. I read quite a bit of her in college. Is "Everything That Rises Must Converge" the one about the insane criminal who captures the family and says of the grandmother:

"She would've been a good woman if there had been someone to shoot her every minute of her life."

Petrus said...

Rob - I think you're thinking of "A Good Man is Hard to Find".

Anonymous said...

That is why I love Flannery. She refuses to fit into a box. AND she illustrates the very real need of a Savior by showing how depraved human beings are to each other.

Ruthie Black naked said...

FLANNERY O'CONNOR was my neighbor in '59 in Milledgeville, and her MANNERS were awful. She was snobby, ugly and rude to me, just because my boy Freddy peed in her garden. She went to Sacred Heart Catholic, where some of those women called me "hussy." www.ruthieblacknaked.blogspot.com

M. Alexander said...

If possible, I now like her even more.