Flannery O’Connor

Born on this day in 1925, Flannery O'Connor is the focus of our Review of the Week

Creating Flannery O’Connor : her critics, her publishers, her readers

Moran, Daniel. Georgia, 2016
253p bibl index, 9780820349541 $39.95, 9780820349558

Moran (history, Monmouth Univ.) describes his fascinating study of O’Connor (1925–64) as a “history of [her] reputation and reception by critics, editors, creative artists, academics, and common readers.” From reviews of her 1952 novel Wise Blood to thousands of comments on the Goodreads website, audiences have struggled to characterize O’Connor’s work, often mistaking religious themes for irony. Resorting to terms like “Southern gothic” and “grotesque,” readers still grapple with a sense of the “strange and powerful” in stories like “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” Several editors and authors, including Robert Giroux, Robert Fitzgerald, Sally Fitzgerald, and William Sessions, have helped shape O’Connor’s reputation by recognizing her emphasis on divine grace and human resistance, both in her fiction and in the posthumous volumes Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose, ed. by Robert Fitzgerald and Sally Fitzgerald (CH, Dec’69), The Habit of Being: Letters, ed. by Sally Fitzgerald (CH, Jul’79), and A Prayer Journal, ed. by Sessions (2013). Fittingly, Moran concludes with a personal account of O’Connor’s 2014 induction, 50 years after her death, into the American Poets Corner at Manhattan’s Cathedral of Saint John the Divine.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers.
Reviewer: J. W. Hall, University of Mississippi
Subject: Humanities – Language & Literature – English & American
Choice Issue: Apr 2017