Flannery O'Connor, Hermit Novelist

Flannery O'Connor, Hermit Novelist

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'Lord, I'm glad I'm a hermit novelist', Flannery O'Connor wrote to a friend in 1957. Sequestered by ill health, O'Connor spent the last thirteen years of her life on the family farm in rural Georgia, which she claimed was accessible 'only by bus or buzzard'. During this productive, solitary time she became increasingly fascinated by fourth-century Christians who retreated to the desert for spiritual replenishment. In "Flannery O'Connor, Hermit Novelist", Richard Giannone explores O'Connor's identification with these early Christian monastics, a bond that stemmed from her faith as well as her own isolation and physical suffering from lupus, and the ways in which their strange, still voices illuminate her fiction.Distinguishing among various desert calls summoning O'Connor's protagonists to solitude and renunciation, Giannone shows how these characters live out a radical simplicity of ascetic discipline as a means of grappling with their demons and drawing closer to God. Combining discussion of her fiction with biographical detail and excerpts from the writings of the early Christians, Giannone reveals how O'Connor's treatment of the desert brings self-denial and self-scrutiny to bear on the urgencies of modern American life. Through the insights of the ancient monastics, "Flannery O'Connor, Hermit Novelist" not only clarifies the bizarre demonology that has long perplexed O'Connor's readers but also reveals in her fiction an attention to the qualities of inner life and a prescient concern for the rampant evil and dissensions of the outside world.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 304 pages
  • 159 x 235.7 x 28.2mm | 646.94g
  • University of Illinois Press
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 0252025288
  • 9780252025280

Review quote

"Creates refreshingly new readings of O'Connor's stories and novels... An exciting study of O'Connor, probably the best that has been published in the past decade." -- Choice "A beautifully written piece of literary criticism that mines the depth of the connection between O'Connor's achievement as a novelist and her quest, in imitation of the desert fathers, for aloneness with God. Admirers ... should not miss this one." -- First Things "Written with an originality, clarity, and force of argument worthy of O'Connor herself... Giannone's study is one of the most penetrating treatments of O'Connor in recent years. His use of the eremetical perspective yields profound insights into her life, her stories, and her significance to modern society." -- John F. Desmond, Christianity and Literature "Through deft analysis, Giannone leads the reader through a goodly amount of O'Connor's fiction accompanied by a direct tracing to the concepts discovered by the desert fathers. His reasoning is impeccable; his knowledge, though formidable, is mesmerizing... This is the first book to use her texts, letters, and the original writings of the early Christian monastics to specifically trace back to its exact religious source... Giannone helps us read with the right eyes. To say that this is an important book is an understatement." -- Dorie Larue, Southern Quarterly "A refreshing and well-written study of O'Connor's fiction as illuminated by the teachings of the desert monastics, which Giannone has researched extensively... Giannone's book, so elegantly argued ... calls for rejoicing." -- Christina Bieber, American Literature "Giannone's book is ... most effective in the questions that he points up, whether intentionally or not, and the directions he implies for future readings of O'Connor through engagement with the theological tradition... This insightful and imaginative book thus sets a precedent for the work that will, one hopes, follow in its path." -- Peter Candler, Literature and Theology "Joins his earlier [volume] as two of the most provocative books yet written on her work... Giannone must be commended rather than chastized for his daring interpretation. More than any other critic, he has dealt with the terrible reality of the demonic that characterizes the whole of O'Connor's fiction. In so doing, he has also challenged the standard Augustinian-Thomistic reading of her work... [Giannone] writes with a metaphorical power that echoes the 'superaliveness' which, in O'Connor's estimate, constitutes the heart of true holiness. And he introduces us to the strange new world of Desert Wisdom with an unapologetic vigor that should speak to pagan and Christian, scholar and amateur alike." -- Ralph Wood, The Flannery O'Connor Bulletin "As a new approach to O'Connor's fictional works, this study is indispensible." Religion and Literature ADVANCE PRAISE "This is one of the most important studies of O'Connor done in the past thirty years. Giannone moves into previously uncharted critical territory, yielding new psychological and spiritual insights into her characters. His book will be indispensable to future O'Connor scholarship." -- John F. Desmond, author of Risen Sons: Flannery O'Connor's Vision of Historyshow more

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