Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"A Good Man is Hard to Find" ...but not a good writer: Happy Birthday, Flannery!

Today is the birthday of writer Flannery O'Connor. She was born in Savannah in 1925 and attended parochial schools there. She lived much of her adult life in Milledgeville, Georgia with her mother. Another famous short story is "Good Country People" which is populated with her familiar yet odd characters wrapped in the Bible Belt mentality and tangled up in sin and redemption.

One of the best sources for understanding who she really was is The Habit of Being: Letters , a collection of her personal letters and correspondences with her editors. Once in an interview with a critic from New York, Miss O'Connor was asked, "Why do Southern writers write about such freaks?" After a thoughtful pause, her reply, "Because we still recognise one when we see one." Considering that she suffered from lupus beginning in 1950 and managed to produce a considerable body of work, it is right that many judge her to be one of the most important American writers of fiction. She died on August 3, 1964 at age 39.

A deeply religious Roman Catholic, she wrote mostly about fundamentalist protestant Southern dilemmas. The New Georgia Encyclopedia says that she is "the strongest apologist for Roman Catholicism in the twentieth century." I am not so sure I agree with that sweeping conclusion, but I do see in her characters a search for Truth. And the truth about Flannery is --the girl could tell a story! One of the road trips I have planned for this summer is a drive to Milledgeville to visit her farm house which has been made into a museum.

I wonder what she would have to say about it.


Tom Atkins said...

Ah, the search for truth - the best writers always are looking for their truth, and we are the beneficiaries!

willow said...

Flannery O'Connor. What a marvelous name. And she died far too young. I must read some of her work! Nice post.

Maggie May said...

I just read her work for the first time in 08, and find her fascinating. WOnderful post!

Michael said...

Thanks for this post, I will look for her work, what a fascinating lady to make a road trip for...

Cait O'Connor said...

I must read the letters of Flannery. What a shame she died so young.

About Me

My photo
Recreational scholar, former high school and junior college English teacher. Animal lover (especially horses, dogs, and people), live in the South, sometimes poet and essayist... "Ireland, Scotland, Britain, and Wales...I can hear those ancient voices calling..." Van Morrison from Celtic Heartbeat