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The Violent Bear It Away ()

The Image Top 100 Books of the Century

    From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the
    violent bear it away.
           -Matthew 11:12

Flannery O'Connor wrote with one of the most distinctive voices in American Literature; a kind of grotesque amalgam of Jonathan Edwards, Charles Brockden Brown, Edgar Allen Poe, and William Faulkner.  She perceived the world in starkly Manichean terms, as a struggle between the forces of Light and Dark, Good and Evil. The Violent Bear it Away is a psychomachia--literally a battle for the soul--the story of a backwoods Southern boy named Francis Marion Tarwater (see The Violent Bear it Away and The Bible by Angela Lucey for more on this).  The boy's great uncle, an Old Testament style patriarch, kidnapped him away from an uncle, George Rayber, and has raised him to be a prophet of God.  Upon his great uncle's death, Tarwater rejects the prophetic mission and heads to the city to live with his uncle, who tries to wean the boy away from the teachings of the great uncle.  Through a series of increasingly violent actions Tarwater is eventual driven back to the woods and a final acceptance of God and his own role in God's plans.

This is powerful stuff, O'Connor felt that exaggeration and caricature were more likely to reach a modern audience than more subtle styles ever could.  Combine that with her vision of violence as a sort of crucible which forces the individual to make a final choice between Good and Evil, and you've got the makings of a truly disturbing fiction.  The book will surely not appeal to all tastes, but it is undeniably affecting and thought provoking.


Grade: (B-)


Flannery O'Connor Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: Flannery O'Connor
    -SHORT STORY: Good Country People (Flannery O'Connor)
    -AUDIO: Hear Flannery O’Connor Read “A Good Man is Hard to Find” (1959)
-ESSAY: The Moral Meaning of Flannery O’Connor: Her work has been called hard-headed, unsparing, grotesque. It’s also stubbornly anti-secular and deeply orthodox. (Henry McDonald, April 16, 2024, Modern Age)
    -ESSAY: There the Story Stops: Flannery O’Connor’s Why Do the Heathen Rage? (SALLY THOMAS • MARCH 12, 2024, Religion & Liberrty)
    -ESSAY: Flannery O'Connor and the Devil's Territory: The novelist of grace and grittiness said: 'I write the way I do because and only because I am a Catholic.' (LORRAINE V. MURRAY, CERC)
-ESSAY: The Flannery O’Connor Novel That Might Have Been: Her final work was continually revised but never finished. Can we know what she was aiming to achieve? (JONATHAN ROGERS, MAY 22, 2024, Christianity Today)
    -ESSAY/VIDEO: Watch a young Flannery O’Connor teaching her chicken to walk backwards (Walker Caplan, June 2, 2021, Lit Hub)
-ESSAY: Understanding the Hillbilly Thomist: Flannery O’Connor (Chuck Chalberg, March 5th, 2024, Imaginative Conservative)
    -SUMMARY: The Violent Bear It Away in a Nutshell: Flannery O'Conner's modus operandi as a writer was the employment of violence and the grotesque to shock her readers out of their somnambulant indifference to truth. (Joseph Pearce, 12/18/22, Crisis)
    -ESSAY: Flannery O’Connor: As a writer with a disability, the beloved Southern novelist showed the beauty of a costly life. (Susannah Black, NOVEMBER 30, 2021, Plough Quarterly)
    -ESSAY: Of Songs and Stories: What Bruce Springsteen Learned From Flannery O’Connor: Warren Zanes on the Literary Influences Underpinning Nebraska (Warren Zanes, May 10, 2023, LitHub)
    -ESSAY: Flannery O’Connor: Friends Don’t Let Friends Read Ayn Rand (1960) (Open Culture, February 27th, 2024)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: Flannery O’Connor and “A Memoir of Mary Ann” (Daniel J. Sundahl, July 1st, 2022, Imaginative Conservative)
-ESSAY: Reading Flannery O’Connor under quarantine: The great writer wrestles with the questions of our time (H.W. Crocker III, August 29, 2022, Spectator)
    -ESSAY: Flannery O’Connor on Sin and Politics (Darrell Falconburg, August 2nd, 2021, Imaginative Conservative)
    -REVIEW: of A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor (Lucy Sweeney Byrne, Irish Times))
    -ESSAY: The soul of Flannery O’Connor: Was Flannery O’Connor a racist, or was she not? (Chilton Williamson, Jr., May 17, 2021, Spectator)
    -ESSAY: In Search of Flannery O’Connor (LAWRENCE DOWNES, February 4, 2007, NY Times)
-REVIEW: of Let the Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O'Connor (Dwight Longenecker, Imaginative Conservative)
    -REVIEW: of Flannery O'Connor: A Life by Jean W. Cash (Peggy Whitman Prenshaw, Washington Post)
    -REVIEW: of A Prayer Journal by Flannery O'Connor (henry t. edmondson iii, Law & Liberty)
    -FILM REVIEW: ‘Acid humour was a big part’: the life and legacy of Flannery O’Connor: A new biopic, starring Maya Hawke, sheds more light on the short but impressive life of the American writer (David Smith, The Guardian)
    -FILM REVIEW: Wildcat (Christopher J. Scalia, Washington Free Beacon)

Book-related and General Links:
-Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964)(kirjasto)
    -ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA: Your search: "flannery o'connor"
    -ESSAY: Georgia's Flannery O'Connor muses on the pleasure, pain of writing in 1961 story  (Reprinted from an 1961 issue of The Athens Banner-Herald ,
    -The Columbia Encyclopedia: Sixth Edition.  2000:  O'Connor, Flannery
    -MEMORIAM: Elizabeth Bishop; Elizabeth Hardwick: Flannery O'Connor, 1925-1964 (NY Review of Books)
    -Georgia Women of Achievement:  1992 Inductee Flannery O'Connor
    -Flannery O'Connor Childhood Home
    -BIO: Mary Flannery O'Connor 1925-1964
    -The Flannery O'Connor Collection (Georgia College & State University, Ina Dillard Russell Library)
    -The Flannery O'Connor Page (SAC LitWeb)
    -Flannery O'Connor (Southern Communities)
    -PAL: Perspectives in American Literature: A Research and Reference Guide Chapter 10: Late Twentieth Century - Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964)
    -Flannery O'Connor (1925-64) (American Literature on the Web)
    -Flannery O'Connor: The Comforts of Home
    -Flannery O'Connor:   Exploring the Mystery of Love and Hate
    -Flannery O'Connor Fan Page
    -A Student's Guide to Flannery O'Connor
    -Flannery O'Connor (created as part of the course ENGL 28: Major American Authors)
    -Flannery O'Connor (American Literature 1860-Present)
    -Flannery O'Connor Museum
    -Flannery O'Connor (Literature Database, Kutztown University)
    -ESSAY: The Violent Bear it Away and The Bible (Angela Lucey)
    -ETEXT: A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor
    -ESSAY : Lectio Divina : Flannery O'Connor Banned  (J. Bottum, Crisis)
    -ESSAY: Obliged to See God (Julie Polter, Sojourner Magazine)
    -ESSAY: Nature and Grace: Flannery O'Connor and the healing of Southern culture (Danny Duncan Collum, Sojourner)
    -ESSAY: A South Without Myths (Alice Walker, Sojourner)
    -ESSAY: Stumbling Onto the Spirit's Signposts (Shane Helmer, Sojourner)
    -ESSAY: Flannery O'Connor's Long Apprenticeship: Honing the Habits of Irony and Satire (Virginia Wray, The Antigonish Review)
    -ESSAY: The Dark Side of the Cross:  Flannery O'Connor's Short Fiction (Patrick Galloway)
    -ESSAY: A Good Writer is Hard to Find: The Search for Flannery O'Connor (Linda McGovern, Literary Traveler)
    -ESSAY: How to Read Flannery O'Connor: Passing by the Dragon (W. A. Sessions, Georgia State University)
    -ESSAY: 'Tin Jesus': The Intellectual in Selected Short Fiction of Flannery O'Connor (Jason Mitchell)
    -ESSAY: Faithfulness vs. Faith:   John Hustonís Version of Flannery OíConnorís Wise Blood (Pamela Demory/Lecturer in English, University of California, Davis)
    -ESSAY: Christianity vs. Entrapment in Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood (Chris Heller)
    -ESSAY: The Essex and Hazel Motes in Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood (Christopher B. Heller)
    -ESSAY: Haze and Enoch: A Contrast in Absurdity (William Wright)
    -ESSAY: Nature and Grace: Flannery O'Connor and the healing of Southern culture (Danny Duncan Collum)
    -ESSAY: That Wit of Flannery's (Harriet Kidd as told to Kim Hollinshead, Milken Family Foundation)
    -ESSAY: Obliged to See God (Julie Polter, Sojourners)
    -ESSAY: A South Without Myths  (Alice Walker, Sojourners)
    -ESSAY: Tin Jesus: The Intellectual In Selected Short Fiction By Flannery O'Connor (Jason P. Mitchell)
    -ESSAY: Crossing the "Black Line of Woods": A Contemporary Anagogical Perspective of O'Connor's Sentinel Line of Trees (Brian Patterson)
    -ESSAY: The Transfiguration of Time: Flannery O'Connor's disorienting fiction (David S. Cunningham)
    -ESSAY: "For Christ's Sake Fix Him" Use of the Child in Two Stories by Flannery O'Connor
    -ESSAY:  Flannery O'Connor's Long Apprenticeship: Honing the Habits of Irony and Satire (Virginia Wray, Antigonish Review)
    -ESSAY: Flannery O'Connor and the Theology of Discontent (Stephen Sparrow)
    -ESSAY: The Dark Side of the Cross: Flannery O'Connor's Short Fiction (PatWeb)
    -ESSAY: Flanner O'Conner's "Everything That Rises Must Converge" (Hanns Bowers)
    -ESSAY: Browse through Flannery O'Connor
    -ESSAY: "O'Connor Country" (Atlanta magazine)
    -ESSAY: A Good Writer is Hard to Find: The Search for Flannery O'Connor (Linda McGovern, Literary Traveler)
    -Flannery O'Connor: Mystery through Manners, Grace Through Nature (Southern Communities)
    -ESSAY: By the fall of 1962
    -ESSAY: Transcendence Through Transgression and Kenosis: Sin as Salvation and Self-Emptying in Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood (Michael Bryson)
    -ESSAY: Team Teaching Middle English Literature With Flannery O'Connor (Susan K. Hagen)
    -ESSAY: Fiction and faith (Michael Skube, y'
    -ESSAY: A Good Writer is Hard to Find (RONALD WEBER, Catholic Educator's Resource Center)
    -ESSAY: Flannery O'Connor's "Christ-Haunted" Souls (Poetess)
    -ESSAY: Killing Codes: Representations of Madness in White Southern Literature
    -ESSAY: Flannery O'Connor meet Stephen King (Stewart O'Nan)
    -ESSAY : Walker Percy and the Christian Scandal (Marion Montgomery, First Things)
    -ANNOTATIONS: from Medical Humanities
    -LINKS: Selected Internet Sites on Flannery O'Connor  (Skylar Hamilton Burris)
    -REVIEW: of Wise Blood (William Goyen, NY Times, May 18, 1952)
    -REVIEW: of FLANNERY O'CONNOR Collected Works: ''Wise Blood,'' ''A Good Man Is Hard to Find,'' ''The Violent Bear It Away" (Brian Moore, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Flannery O'Connor: The Collected Works (Robin Darling Young, First Things)
    -REVIEW: Irving Howe: Flannery O'Connor's Stories, NY Review of Books
        Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O'Connor
    -REVIEW: Richard Gilman: On Flannery O'Connor, NY Review of Books
        Mystery and Manners by Flannery O'Connor
    -REVIEW: Robert Towers: Flannery O'Connor's Gifts, NY Review of Books
        The Habit of Being letters by Flannery O'Connor
    -REVIEW: Frederick Crews: The Power of Flannery O'Connor, NY Review of Books
        Collected Works by Flannery O'Connor and edited by Sally Fitzgerald
        The Art and Vision of Flannery O'Connor by Robert H. Brinkmeyer, Jr.
        The Comedy of Redemption: Christian Faith and Comic Vision in Four American Novelists by Ralph C. Wood
        Flannery O'Connor: The Imagination of Extremity by Frederick Asals
    -REVIEW: of Understanding Flannery O'Connor By Margaret Earley Whitt,  Flannery O'Connor: The Woman, the Thinker, the Visionary  By Ted R. Spivey,  Writing against God:  Language as Message in the Literature of Flannery O'Connor By Joanne Halleran McMullen (Rachel V. Mills, East Carolina University. Mills, Southern Cultures)

    -BOOK LIST: The best titles proclaiming or applying a biblical worldview in a hostile 20th century (The Editors, World Magazine)
    -ESSAY: What makes for 20th Century Catholic fiction?  A theory of what Catholic fiction is and what books conform to it (Tracy Dowling, Catholic Standard)
    -ESSAY:  Reconstructing Southern Women's Literature: A literary critic says it's more than sugar and honey (SCOTT HELLER, Chronicle of Higher Education)
    -ESSAY: AND NOW, A WORD FROM OUR CREATOR (Dan Wakefield, NY Times Book Review)