Return to Good and Evil: Flannery O'Connor's Response to Nihilism

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9780739111055: Return to Good and Evil: Flannery O'Connor's Response to Nihilism

While Flannery O'Connor is hailed as one of the most important writers of the twentieth-century American south, few appreciate O'Connor as a philosopher as well. In Return to Good and Evil, Henry T. Edmondson introduces us to a remarkable thinker who uses fiction to confront and provoke us with the most troubling moral questions of modern existence. 'Right now the whole world seems to be going through a dark night of the soul,' O'Connor once said, in response to the nihilistic tendencies she saw in the world around her. Nihilism―Nietzche's idea that 'God is dead'―preoccupied O'Connor, and she used her fiction to draw a tableau of human civilization on the brink of a catastrophic moral, philosophical, and religious crisis. Again and again, O'Connor suggests that the only way back from this precipice is to recognize the human need for grace, redemption, and God. She argues brilliantly and persuasively through her novels and short stories that the Nietzschean challenge to the notions of good and evil is an ill-conceived effort that will result only in disaster. With rare access to O'Connor's correspondence, prose drafts, and other personal writings, Edmondson investigates O'Connor's deepest motivations through more than just her fiction and illuminates the philosophical and theological influences on her life and work. Edmondson argues that O'Connor's artistic brilliance and philosophical genius reveal the only possible response to the nihilistic despair of the modern world: a return to good and evil through humility and grace.

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About the Author:

Henry T. Edmondson III is professor in the Department of Government at Georgia College & State University.

Review:

"As ... Henry Edmondson... shows, O'Connor takes us through evil to good, through sacrifice to redemption, and through tragedy to comedy." (Thomas Hibbs National Review)

Edmondson's considerable philosophical and theological sophistication informs every page of his interpretations of O'Connor's stories. That interpretation is wonderfully intense and nuanced, because Edmondson is convinced that these stories might just be one way we can know the truth. Edmondson's book inaugurates a new stage in the scholarly appreciation of Flannery O'Connor. (Peter Augustine Lawler, Berry College)

To my knowledge, this is the best thing written on Flannery O'Connor. It is extremely valuable, insightful, and beautifully written; like O'Connor's stories themselves, it is hard to put down. It is a splendid introduction to first-time readers as well as a treasure for those who are well acquainted with O'Connor's works. . . . Professor Edmondson leads us to the heart of the stories with gracefulness and directness. (Peter Kalkavage, St. John's College)

Although it is widely appreciated that O'Connor was a serious Catholic, literary scholars do not explore what that means for her work with the depth that Edmondson undertakes here; neither have many of them spent the time he has examining and drawing conclusions from her library and letters. (Charles Rubin, Duquesne University)

This most illuminating book should become the standard against which past and future studies of O'Connor will be measured. Everyone mentions Nietzsche, but Edmondson seems to know his thought as intimately and as reliably as I imagine O'Connor did. We've long needed this more searching examination of O'Connor's bad angel. (John E. Alvis, University of Dallas)

With this lucid, compelling, and important book, Henry T. Edmondson III reveals Flannery O'Connor's prophetic poetry and explains her moral vision. He leads us into the heart of her fiction and exhibits a profound understanding of her intentions and of her theological sources. Moving adroitly among her stories, letters, and speeches―intrepidly tracking her every literary move―Edmondson makes it as hard for us, as it is for O'Connor's characters, to remain in 'some halfway position' on moral questions. He demonstrates, moreover, that O'Connor's 'Christian realism' is not for the faint of heart. She offers shock therapy for the morally obtuse and hard-edged truths to alarm the easygoing and sentimental. As Edmondson explains, O'Connor's stories show why the Nietzchean effort to expel good and evil, and God and the Devil, is doomed to fail―but she further shows that when this misadventure is abandoned, self-knowledge will return through grace. (Pamela K. Jensen, Kenyon College)

[Edmondson's] passionate and detailed explanation of O'Connor's intellectual 'devils' and mentors is useful, informative, and most welcome. (Cheers!)

Realigned, refreshed, and reinforced by Edmondson's distinctive exposition, we put down his study with our comprehension enhanced, ready once again to address ourselves to Flannery O'Connor. (Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture)

For the newcomer, Edmondson's book offers a primer on O'Connor's wit and wisdom. For the seasoned reader, Return to Good and Evil offers a highly readable exposition of the philosophical and theological engagement of her stories. (Christianity Today)

Edmondson succeeds admirably in his chosen task of making explicit the vision that Flannery O'Connor dramatized so powerfully in her fiction. . . . One hopes that his achievement will lead others to read and write more abour O'Connor, and perhaps encourage even members of English departments to return to the kind of literary criticism exemplified so well in Return to Good and Evil. (Modern Age)

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Book Description Lexington Books, United States, 2005. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Return to Good and Evil: Flannery O Connor s Response to Nihilism is a superb guide to the works of Flannery O Connor; and like O Connor s stories themselves, it is captivating, provocative, and unsettling. Edmondson organizes O Connor s thought around her principal concern, that with the nihilistic claim that God is dead the traditional signposts of good and evil have been lost. Edmondson s book demonstrates that the combination of O Connor s artistic brilliance and philosophical genius provide the best response to the nihilistic despair of the modern world-a return to good and evil through humility and grace. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780739111055

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Book Description Lexington Books, United States, 2005. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Return to Good and Evil: Flannery O Connor s Response to Nihilism is a superb guide to the works of Flannery O Connor; and like O Connor s stories themselves, it is captivating, provocative, and unsettling. Edmondson organizes O Connor s thought around her principal concern, that with the nihilistic claim that God is dead the traditional signposts of good and evil have been lost. Edmondson s book demonstrates that the combination of O Connor s artistic brilliance and philosophical genius provide the best response to the nihilistic despair of the modern world-a return to good and evil through humility and grace. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780739111055

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Book Description Lexington Books June 2005, 2005. Paper Back. Book Condition: New. Henry T. Edmondson's Flannery O'Connor is, at heart, a philosopher who uses fiction to confront and provoke her readers to serious thought about the difficult questions of modernity. To illustrate his point, he begins the book with a quote by Mikhail Lermontov from A Hero of Our Time: ''People have been fed enough sweetmeats; it has given them indigestion: they need some bitter medicine, some caustic truths.'' Edmondson claims that many readers find O'Connor's work difficult because they have an inadequate understanding of nihilism -- that pervasive spirit of the modern age against which O'Connor picked up her pen time and again to do battle. Edmondson balances his diagnosis of this mis-appreciation by also concerning himself with a thorough examination of O'Connor's Catholicism -- in particular, her Thomistic leanings. Using her stories and novels as lodestones, Edmondson discusses the plight of modern man and his difficult return to God, the seduction of nihilism, the difficulties of social change, the nature of evil and the part suffering plays in redemption. With uncommon access to O'Connor's personal library and papers, Edmondson follows the progression of her burgeoning philosophy from the death of her father through her last years, and his book carries in it a subtle sense of authority concerning O'Connor's work. Like him, we find that her stories penetrate reality and (quoting O'Connor) ''find in each thing the spirit which makes it itself and holds the world together.'''. Bookseller Inventory # 62618

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Book Description Lexington Books. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Paperback. 218 pages. Dimensions: 8.9in. x 6.0in. x 0.8in.While Flannery OConnor is hailed as one of the most important writers of the twentieth-century American south, few appreciate OConnor as a philosopher as well. In Return to Good and Evil, Henry T. Edmondson introduces us to a remarkable thinker who uses fiction to confront and provoke us with the most troubling moral questions of modern existence. Right now the whole world seems to be going through a dark night of the soul, OConnor once said, in response to the nihilistic tendencies she saw in the world around her. NihilismNietzches idea that God is deadpreoccupied OConnor, and she used her fiction to draw a tableau of human civilization on the brink of a catastrophic moral, philosophical, and religious crisis. Again and again, OConnor suggests that the only way back from this precipice is to recognize the human need for grace, redemption, and God. She argues brilliantly and persuasively through her novels and short stories that the Nietzschean challenge to the notions of good and evil is an ill-conceived effort that will result only in disaster. With rare access to OConnors correspondence, prose drafts, and other personal writings, Edmondson investigates OConnors deepest motivations through more than just her fiction and illuminates the philosophical and theological influences on her life and work. Edmondson argues that OConnors artistic brilliance and philosophical genius reveal the only possible response to the nihilistic despair of the modern world: a return to good and evil through humility and grace. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 9780739111055

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