Flannery O'Connor

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Flannery O’Connor (1947)

Mary Flannery O'Connor (March 25, 1925 – August 3, 1964) was a novelist, short story writer and essayist who lived in Georgia, USA. She wrote two novels and 31 short stories, as well as a number of reviews and commentaries.



Letters to Alfred Corn (1962)

  • charity is beyond reason, and that God can be known through charity.
  • About the only way we know whether we believe or not is by what we do
  • One result of the stimulation of your intellectual life that takes place in college is usually a shrinking of the imaginative life. This sounds like a paradox, but I have often found it to be true.
  • Faith is what you have in the absence of knowledge. The reason this clash doesn't bother me any longer is because I have got, over the years, a sense of the immense sweep of creation, of the evolutionary process in everything, of how incomprehensible God must necessarily be to be the God of heaven and earth. You can't fit the Almighty into your intellectual categories. I might suggest that you look into some of the works of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (The Phenomenom of Man et al.). He was a paleontologist-helped to discover Peking man-and also a man of God. I don't suggest you go to him for answers but for different questions, for that stretching of the imagination that you need to make you a sceptic in the face of much that you are learning, much of which is new and shocking but which when boiled down becomes less so and takes its place in the general scheme of things.
  • If you want your faith, you have to work for it. It is a gift, but for very few is it a gift given without any demand for equal time devoted to its cultivation. For every book you read that is anti-Christian, make it your business to read one that presents the other side of the picture; if one isn't satisfactory read others. Don't think that you I have to abandon reason to be a Christian. A book that might help you is The Unity of Philosophical Experience by Etienne Gilson. Another is Newman's The Grammar of Assent. To find out about faith, you have to go to the people who have it and you have to go to the most intelligent ones
  • Even in the life of a Christian, faith rises and falls like the tides of an invisible sea. It's there, even when he can't see it or feel it, if he wants it to be there. You realize, I think, that it is more valuable, more mysterious, altogether more immense than anything you can learn or decide upon in college. Learn what you can, but cultivate Christian scepticism. It will keep you free-not free to do anything you please, but free to be formed by something larger than your own intellect or the intellects of those around you.

Quotes about Flannery O'Connor

  • I’ve always loved that line from Flannery O’Connor’s “Revelation”: “Go back to hell where you came from, you old wart hog.”
  • That's one of the reasons I love O'Connor: Everything is so Catholic and bizarre at the same time.
  • As Flannery O'Connor once noted, writers are difficult biographical subjects; her own life story, O'Connor said, consisted mostly of walking from the house to the barn and back again.
  • Every young writer should read Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard to Find at least three or four times. If you’ve ever thought creativity was opposed to clarity, or that funny stories aren’t serious, or that stories about abnormal people are about abnormal people, or that the road to the realistic was through realism—O’Connor is here to disabuse you, with pleasure. And do take note of her characterization and story structure, too! Textbook.
  • There are lots of women writers in the South, like Flannery O'Connor and Eudora Welty, who wrap you up in a story. They come from a tradition of storytellers which is amazingly similar to the Puerto Rican cuento. "Te voy a echar un cuento," eso era eso era lo que Mamá decía. (CDH: The tradition of oral transmission is common among minorities, especially among immigrants.) JOC: Of course. When you read Flannery O'Connor, you almost hear her. It wasn't until I was an adult that I discovered Latino writers who do the same thing, but by that time I had been influenced by the storytellers of the South and by my grandmother.
    • Judith Ortiz Cofer Puerto Rican Voices in English: Interviews with Writers Carmen Dolores Hernandez 1997
  • O’Connor’s works are full of evil mockery, occasionally reminiscent of Baudelaire or Kundera. Don’t expect to find things like love, tenderness, or sentiment in her stories. This makes me tremendously happy.
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