The Art and Vision of Flannery O'Connor (Southern Literary Studies)

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9780807118535: The Art and Vision of Flannery O'Connor (Southern Literary Studies)

Flannery O'Connor believed that fiction must try to achieve something on the order of what St. Gregory wrote about Scripture: every time it presents a fact, it must also disclose a mystery. O'Connor's artistic vision was located squarely in her Catholic faith, yet she realized that to view life only through the eyes of the Church was to ignore a large part of existence. In her fiction, therefore, she explored a wider world, employing voices that challenged conceptions of both self and faith, ultimately enlarging and deepening both. In The Art and Vision of Flannery O'Connor, Robert Brinkmeyer presents an innovative study of O'Connor's fiction by exploring the dialogic forces at work in her writing.Drawing on the insights of literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin, Brinkmeyer offers an explanation for the great depth and power of O'Connor's work, paying particular attention to the ways her art and audience bear upon her regnant Catholic vision. This pressure and resistance, Brinkmeyer writes, free O'Connor's vision from the limits of its perspective, opening it to growth and understanding. After a thorough discussion of the ways in which O'Connor's Catholic and southern heritage helped to form her artistic vision, Brinkmeyer shows how dialogic encounters are at work in O'Connor's interaction with her largely fundamentalist narrators, the stories they tell, and her readers. He focuses on several of her stories as well as her two novels, Wise Blood and The Violent Bear It Away. As the first analysis of the dialogical dynamics of O'Connor's art and vision, this study offers an original approach to understanding O'Connor. But the significance of the book extends far beyond O'Connor scholarship, for Brinkmeyer presents a critical method that has value for exploring other writers, particularly other modern Catholic writers.

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About the Author:

Robert H. Brinkmeyer, Jr. is associate professor of English and southern studies at the University of Mississippi. He is author of Three Catholic Writers of the Modern South.

From Library Journal:

Using Mikhail Bakhtin's theory that art is a dialog of conflicting visions, this brief and clearly written study argues that O'Connor's mature fiction is informed and deepened by an open-ended conflict between the author's Catholic orientation, her narrator's fierce Protestant fundamentalist vision, and her characters' own obsessive view of the world. No superficial tour of the stories and novels, Brinkmeyer's convincing study--by all odds the best yet on this major American writer--is invaluable in illuminating the source of the bizarre and violent in her fiction and in showing how O'Connor both used the advantages of her southern heritage and by-passed its threat. Indispensable to the subject.
- Charles C. Nash, Cottey Coll., Nevada, Mo.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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