The Violent Bear It Away: 70 years old in 2020

tvbiaway 1st ed front coverO’Connor’s The Violent Bear It Away was published sixty-nine years ago in January, 1960. “The back jacket is devoted to a quote from Caroline’s piece in Critique [on Wise Blood],” O’Connor told Betty Hester, “which will be like waving the red flag in front of several bulls.”

From an outsider’s perspective, it was a nice blurb for the O’Connor. “The talent of Flannery O’Connor,” Gordon wrote, “one of the most original among younger American writers, was recognized soon after the publication of her first short stories. . . . Miss O’Connor’s work, however, has a characteristic which does not occur in the work of any of her contemporaries. Its presence in everything she writes, coupled with her extraordinary talent, makes her, I suspect, one of the most important writers of our age. . . . In Miss O’Connor’s vision of modern man–a vision not limited to Southern rural humanity–all her characters are ‘displaced persons.’ They are ‘off center,’ out of place, because they are victims of a rejection of the Scheme of Redemption. They are lost in that abyss which opens for man when he sets up as God. This theological framework is never explicit in Miss O’Connor’s fiction. It is so much a part of her direct gaze at human conduct that she seems herself to be scarcely aware of it. I believe that this accounts to a great extent for her power. It is a Blakean vision, not through symbol as such but through the actuality of human behavior; and it has Blake’s explosive honesty.”tvbiaway cover back gordon

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