Flannery O'Connor and the Christ-Haunted South

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Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2005 M05 2 - 272 pages
Flannery O'Connor was only the second twentieth-century writer (after William Faulkner) to have her work collected for the Library of America, the definitive edition of American authors. Fifty years after her death, O'Connor's fiction still retains its original power and pertinence. For those who know nothing of O'Connor and her work, this study by Ralph C. Wood offers one of the finest introductions available. For those looking to deepen their appreciation of this literary icon, it breaks important new ground.

Unique to Wood's approach is his concern to show how O'Connor's stories, novels, and essays impinge on America's cultural and ecclesial condition. He uses O'Connor's work as a window onto its own regional and religious ethos. Indeed, he argues here that O'Connor's fiction has lasting, even universal, significance precisely because it is rooted in the confessional witness of her Roman Catholicism and in the Christ-haunted character of the American South.

According to Wood, it is this O'Connor -- the believer and the Southerner -- who helps us at once to confront the hardest cultural questions and to propose the profoundest religious answers to them. His book is thus far more than a critical analysis of O'Connor's writing; in fact, it is principally devoted to cultural and theological criticism by way of O'Connor's searing insights into our time and place.

These are some of the engaging moral and religious questions that Wood explores: the role of religious fundamentalism in American culture and in relation to both Protestant liberalism and Roman Catholicism; the practice of racial slavery and its continuing legacy in the literature and religion of the South; the debate over Southern identity, especially whether it is a culture rooted in ancient or modern values; the place of preaching and the sacraments in secular society and dying Christendom; and the lure of nihilism in contemporary American culture.

Splendidly illuminating both O'Connor herself and the American mind, Wood's Flannery O'Connor and the Christ-Haunted South will inform and fascinate a wide range of readers, from lovers of literature to those seriously engaged with religious history, cultural analysis, or the American South.

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Contents

IV
49
V
91
VI
119
VII
153
VIII
177
X
215
XI
249
XII
265
XIII
269
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Page 83 - And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
Page 163 - For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of : for necessity is laid upon me ; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel...
Page 216 - Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.
Page 202 - Science, on the other hand, has to assert its soberness and seriousness afresh and declare that it is concerned solely with what-is. Nothing how can it be for science anything but a horror and a phantasm? If science is right, then one thing stands firm: science wishes to know nothing of nothing.
Page 159 - And He walks with me, and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own; And the joy we share as we tarry there None other has ever known.
Page 223 - But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles...
Page 234 - The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

About the author (2005)

University Professor of Theology and Literature at Baylor University, Waco, Texas. He serves as an editor-at-large for the Christian Century and as a member of the editorial board for the Flannery O?Connor Review. His other books include The Comedy of Red

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