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Hardcover O'Connor - Collected Works : Wise Blood; a Good Man Is Hard to Find; the Violent Bear It Away; Everything That Rises Must Converge; Essays and Letter Book

ISBN: 0940450372

ISBN13: 9780940450370

O'Connor - Collected Works : Wise Blood; a Good Man Is Hard to Find; the Violent Bear It Away; Everything That Rises Must Converge; Essays and Letter

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

In her short lifetime, Flannery O'Connor became one of the most distinctive American writers of the twentieth century. By birth a native of Georgia and a Roman Catholic, O'Connor depicts, in all its comic and horrendous incongruity, the limits of worldly wisdom and the mysteries of divine grace in the "Christ-haunted" Protestant South. This Library of America collection, the most comprehensive ever published, contains all of her novels and short-story...

Customer Reviews

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Amazing Grace

How sweet the sound that saved this wreched human race. O'Connor writes of God's love and redemption of humanity. She uses exaggeration to make her point. Her characters are so very silly, obtuse, bigoted, loathsome they become cartoons, yet there is a deep integrity to their shallowness. She's not making fun of them, but giving them the justice of a pitiless description. Indeed they do not seem judged, but naked -- the fruits of their stupid, misguided ideas and actions on display. And these children of God do shocking things to others and themselves. And yet . . .. And yet God allows them to live and learn, or not learn if that is their inclination. He gives them this freedom. He loves them. How can this be? How? I love O'Connor for her art, her convictions, her courage, and her love. She is so very true and honest. In addition to her novels and a thorough selection of short stories, there is a chronology of her life and a selection of her letters which are rewarding reading. The book itself is a wonderful object. The pages are of fine paper. The binding is such that you can lay it open on a table without breaking its back, and the pages will not move unless a breeze or you do so.

Just Read It All

The complaints about the poor organization of the collection can be overcome by simply reading it from front to back. Surely it is that good. My foray into the works of Flannery O'Connor, a southern, gothic author of darkly humorous novels and short stories came via a recommendation in Harold Bloom's, "What to Read and Why." As it turned ot, I had read one of her short stories, "A Good Man is Hard to Find," in a collection somewhere and had been surprised and shocked, by the turn of events and ending of the story, so much so, that I remembered it instantly, even though it has to have been thirty years since I read it. I enjoyed everything, short stories, novellas, and even her letters. She writes about southern Christ-haunted people, most backward, all damned, but many redeemed. Bloom says that according to her, we are all damned but one should put that aside and simply enjoy her beautiful, grotesque, and wonderful comedic stories. Her protagonist is often a woman, forced to take on a role and duties she didn't sign up for but resignedly and with no illusions playing and discharging both out of a sense of morality or necessity; those women are usually the most superior beings in her stories. Many of her insights stick with me months afterwards. For example, O'Connor says in one of her letters, "...Hazel's integrity lies in his not being able to do so. Does one's integrity ever lie in what he is not able to do? I think that usually it does, for free will does not mean one will, but many wills conflicting in one man. Freedom cannot be conceived simply. It is a mystery and one which a novel, even a comic novel, can only be asked to deepen." That brought tears to my eyes -- perhaps because it is so beautifully put.

A literary voice silenced way too early.

Flannery O'Connor did not even live to see her 40th birthday; she died, in 1964, of lupus, the same inflammatory disease which had killed her father when she was a mere teenager and which all too soon began to cripple her as well. A graduate of the Iowa State University's journalism and writing program, she had started to write her first stories, poems and other pieces when she was still in high school, and had submitted a collection of six short stories entitled "The Geranium" as her master's thesis in university. (Most of the stories contained in that collection were published individually in various magazines and anthologies around the time of their inclusion in the thesis; the collection as a whole, however, was first published only posthumously in the National Book Award winning "Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor.") Only a few years after having obtained her master's degree, and after a prolonged residence at Yaddo artists' colony in upstate New York, O'Connor began to spend time in hospitals and, in due course, was diagnosed with lupus. From that moment on, she focused on her writing even more than she had before - and the result were two novels, two short story collections, several stand-alone short stories, essays and other pieces of occasional prose, as well as a barrage of letters. The majority of that work product, including twenty-one previously unpublished letters, is reproduced in this collection published in the Library of America series; notably, the fiction part also includes, as one piece, O'Connor's master's thesis, "The Geranium: A Collection of Short Stories." A native of Georgia, Flannery O'Connor defined herself as much as a Catholic writer as a Southerner; and she commented on the impact that regional influences on the one hand and her religion on the other hand had had on her writing in the 1963 essays "The Catholic Novelist in the Protestant South" and "The Regional Writer." Yet, while religion (and more specifically, Catholicism) certainly plays a big part in her writing, from the "Christian malgre lui," as she herself characterized the hero of her first novel "Wise Blood" in the Author's Note to book's 1962 second edition, to the "odd folks out" and searching souls populating her short stories, and to her frequent biblical references, it would not do her writing justice to limit her to that realm, nor to that of "Southern" fiction. (No matter for which specific dramatic purpose a writer employed a Southern setting, he would still be considered to be writing about the South in general, and was thus left to get rid off the label of a "Southern writer ... and all the misconceptions that go with it" as best he could, she quipped in her 1960 essay "Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction." Rather, she added three years later in "The Regional Writer," location matters to an author insofar as any author "operates at a peculiar crossroads where time and place and eternity somehow meet," and it is up to h

The Best

Flannery O'Connor was the best short-story writer of the 20th century. This collection contains all of her wonderful short stories, her sadly underappreciated novel WISE BLOOD, and one of the most entertaining and enlightening selections from an author's letters I've ever come across.

A great artist, a noble soul!

This is perhaps the most beautiful edition of the collected works of Flannery O'Connor. And it contains not only her incomparable stories--with those unforgettable characters!--but her magnificent letters. Her stories can both shock and shine. Her letters have made me both laugh and cry. Her stories never grow old--I've read them over many years now and am always finding something new and fresh and am always in awe of her consummate artistry. And her letter reveal, at least in part, the secret of her art and the power of her stories: they reveal a noble soul. Humble, honest, caring, suffering, and always, a valiant woman of faith. Her lupus stimied her activity; but it deepened her spirit and heart. I am sure those peacocks she loved so much missed her. And they're not fortunate enough, like us, to be able to read her relatively slim, but always enriching, literary legacy. GET THIS BOOK!
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