"A must-read for its undaunted exploration of critical questions most O'Connor scholars evade rather than plumb, including O'Connor's possible racism, quasi-Manichaeanism, ambivalent depictions of women, denigration of human relationships, and creative grappling with the expectations of patriarchy."
—Virginia Quarterly Review
Disturbing, ironic, haunting, brutal. What inner struggles led Flannery O’Connor to create fiction that elicits such labels? Much of the tension that drives O’Connor’s writing, says Sarah Gordon, stems from the natural resistance of her imagination to the obedience expected by her male-centered church, society, and literary background.
Flannery O’Connor: The Obedient Imagination shows us a writer whose world was steeped in male presumption regarding women and creativity. The book is filled with fresh perspectives on O’Connor’s Catholicism; her upbringing as a dutiful, upper-class southern daughter; her readings of Thurber, Poe, Eliot, and other arguably misogynistic authors; and her schooling in the New Criticism.
As Gordon leads us through a world premised on expectations at odds with O’Connor’s strong and original imagination, she ranges across all of O’Connor’s fiction and many of her letters and essays. While acknowledging O’Connor’s singular situation, Gordon also gleans insights from the lives and works of other southern writers, Eudora Welty, Caroline Gordon, and Margaret Mitchell among them.
Flannery O’Connor: The Obedient Imagination draws on Sarah Gordon’s thirty years of reading, teaching, and discussing one of our most complex and influential authors. It takes us closer than we have ever been to the creative struggles behind such literary masterpieces as Wise Blood and “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.”
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