Flannery O'Connor

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Flannery O'Connor (1925–64), was an American writer famous for her stories about Catholic life in the South. She is known for her strong imagination, unflintching moral vision, and brilliant literary style. Her stories combine the grotesque and the gothic, treating contemporary Southern rural life in terms of stark, brutal comedy and violent tragedy. She had been acclaimed by conservatives.


O'Connor's situated her conceptions of Catholic beliefs and practices into her fictional renderings of a Southern religious landscape. O'Connor wanted to reveal the reality of evil to an audience lost in a secular age. O'Connor was like John Henry Newman in her dialectic understanding of an interaction of presences in the world, one "diabolical" and the other "sacred." In her short story "Parker's Back," O'Connor was interested in the union of body and soul as elaborated by Thomas Aquinas. In "The Violent Bear It Away," O'Connor uses "displaced sacraments" to reveal the Incarnation of Christ in seemingly perverse characters and contexts. She also used Protestant fundamentalist theology, as in the "The River" where Harry Ashfield is baptized by drowning.[1]

Further reading

  • Gooch, Brad. Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor (2009)
  • Jordan, Michael M. "Flannery O'Connor's Writings: A Guide for the Perplexed," Modern Age Volume 47, Number 1; Winter 2005 onlineedition
  • McMullen, Joanne Halleran, and Jon Parrish Peede, eds. Inside the Church of Flannery O'Connor: Sacrament, Sacramental, and the Sacred in Her Fiction;; (Mercer University Press, 2007). 233 pp.; essays by 10 scholars
  • Wood, Ralph C. Flannery O'connor And The Christ-Haunted South (2004)

Primary sources

  • Flannery O'Connor. Collected Works: Wise Blood / A Good Man Is Hard to Find / The Violent Bear It Away / Everything that Rises Must Converge / Essays & Letters (Library of America, 1988) the most useful collection excerpt and text search
  • Flannery O'Connor. The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O'Connor ed. bySally Fitzgerald (1988) excerpt and text search


  1. See McMullen and Peede, eds. Inside the Church of Flannery O'Connor (2007)