“The Electric Give and Take”

"[Caroline Gordon's] letters to O’Connor, which cover 13 years from 1951 to O’Connor’s death in 1964, are the most detailed literary critiques I have ever read, covering everything from naming characters, to proper viewpoint, particularly as she guided O’Connor through the writing of her first novel, Wise Blood. She was a hard taskmaster and would not… Continue reading “The Electric Give and Take”

Regina O’Connor, The Diplomat

In The Letters of Flannery O’Connor and Caroline Gordon, one my favorite O’Connor letters tells a story about how the displaced persons who lived at Andalusia interacted with the longtime farmhands: “The D. P. [the Displaced Person, Mr. Matysiak] and Shot nearly choked each other in the wagon the other day and now my mother… Continue reading Regina O’Connor, The Diplomat

February, for Flannery O’Connor

In February, 1957, an adaptation of Flannery O’Connor’s story “The Life You Save May Be Your Own” was presented in an episode of CBS’s Schlitz Playhouse of Stars and featured Gene Kelly. Watch it here. In February, 1959, O’Connor received a Ford Foundation grant of $8,000. Fellow recipients included Katherine Anne Porter and Robert Fitzgerald.  Read… Continue reading February, for Flannery O’Connor

That roar which lies on the other side of silence…

There are small moments within the letters of O’Connor and Gordon that open into larger worlds—moments I’ve been exploring without any goal or endposts. Here is one. On 29 January 1953, Flannery O’Connor wrote to her new friend Caroline Gordon about her reading of  George Eliot (the pen name of Mary Anne Evans): I got… Continue reading That roar which lies on the other side of silence…

Crowded Effects, Strange Light

I think you have crowded your effects too much here. If I were writing this passage I would emphasize its importance by breaking it up into several--perhaps three--sentences instead of crowding a lot of ideas into one sentence [. . .]  “Single block of one story brick and wooden shacks” sounds ugly. (Of course they… Continue reading Crowded Effects, Strange Light

The Violent Bear It Away: 70 years old in 2020

O'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… Continue reading The Violent Bear It Away: 70 years old in 2020

A Peripety

I think you need in this story [“The Enduring Chill”] what Aristotle called "a peripety," the unforeseen incident which brings about a solution and yet springs out of what has gone before. Suppose that, as very well might be, one of the students in this class is a sort of Fr. Wiegel, a young priest… Continue reading A Peripety