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“A Sketch of the life and works of one of our notable American writers, Flannery O’Connor, a writer perhaps presently overlooked but most deserving of literary attention and thought”

“A Sketch of the life and works of one of our notable American writers, Flannery O’Connor, a writer perhaps presently overlooked but most deserving of literary attention and thought”

 

My dear thinkers and readers and fellow lovers of literature and men and women of all thoughts, ideas and opinions, I bid you and ask you to join with me in another voyage of intellectual discovery. I welcome you in this quest of attaining and coming to know intellectual honesty and honest discernment and do join with me and find what is valid and authentic in this world of confusion and join with me in tearing apart the curtain of lies and darkness that hides from us what is truth and facts.

Today I have the privilege and honor of speaking of and presenting the life and works of one of our greatest American writers, Flannery O’Connor, the author of many literary treasures, books which once begun cannot be put down and once read through, thoroughly engage our minds and spirits and souls such as few works of prose can and will do.

I am a great fan of English and American literature, both poets such as Keats, Byron, T.S. Eliot and A.E. Housman and novelists such as Dickens, Thackeray, Melville, Conrad and Jane Austen, writers and artists once read, my mind and consciousness are raised to a different level. I acquire in reading and knowing these authors a different level of understanding. I am in coming to know them lifted up intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. I will never regret the time I have spent in reading them and being exposed to them and absorbing their greatness, despite American society telling us on a constant basis that time spent with them has no practical value as producing no income. A life without this great literature is a life cheated and wasted of what these greatest of minds have to offer.

Flannery O’Connor was born in 1925 and died in 1964. She was an American novelist, short-story writer and essayist and was a regional southern writer. Her writing reflected her Roman Catholic faith and examined questions of morality and ethics. She was born in Georgia. The family moved from Savannah, Georgia to another town. Her father died in 1941. She attended Peabody High School and entered Georgia State College for Women on a three-year track and graduated in 1945 with a BA in English literature. In 1946 she was accepted in the Iowa Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa, where she came to know many notable writers. In 1949 she met and accepted an invitation to stay with Robert Fitzgerald, a well-known translator of the classics. 

She is primarily known for her short stories. She published two books of short stories, one in 1955 entitled A Good Man is Hard to Find, and the other, Everything that Rises Must Converge, published after her death. Her novels are Wise Blood (1952) and The Violent Bear (1960). There are fragments of an unfinished novel. Her writing career can be divided into four five-years periods from 1945 to 1964, which include work as a postgraduate student; her early period: Wise Blood, completed and published; her middle period: A Good Man is Hard to Find; and her mature period: Everything that Rises Must Converge

Her work usually takes place in the south and involves morally flawed characters and people with disabilities, as well as issues of race. She was informed by the sacramental Roman Catholic idea and by the Thomist notion that the created world is charged with God. One of her stories involved the issue of the Holocaust and in others the racial issues in the south. She frequently used bird imagery in her fiction. 

In 1952 she was diagnosed with lupus and lived for twelve years after the diagnosis. She completed two dozen short stories and two novels while suffering from lupus. She made sixty lecture appearances to read her works and each day attended Mass. She died in 1964 at age 39.

Throughout her life she maintained a wide correspondence. Emory University houses more than 600 of her letters. She won a number of awards for her work. Her complete stories won the 1972 US National Book Award for fiction. 

The fiction of Flannery O’Connor is most delightful and contains a moral and ethical depth not usually present in the work of a modern author of the level of Flannery O’Connor. She will always be one of our very great writers and her work will endure and continue to be read. I recommend it to all generations and ages.

 

For the content of this essay I acknowledge my debt to the article on this author in Wikipedia.