Flannery O'Connor (March 25, 1925 – August 3, 1964) was an American novelist, short-story writer and essayist. An important voice in American literature, O'Connor wrote two novels and 32 short stories, as well as a number of reviews and commentaries. She was a Southern writer who often wrote in a Southern Gothic style and relied heavily on regional settings and grotesque characters. O'Connor's writing also reflected her Catholic faith, and frequently examined questions of morality and ethics.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from her. Let me know which ones resonate with you.
I am not afraid that the book will be controversial, I'm afraid it will not be controversial.
Anyone who survives childhood has enough material to write for the rest of his or her life.
Our age not only does not have a very sharp eye for the almost imperceptible intrusions of grace, it no longer has much feeling for the nature of the violences which precede and follow them.
I think it is safe to say that while the South is hardly Christ-centered, it is most certainly Christ-haunted.
We lost our innocence in the Fall, and our turn to it is through the Redemption which was brought about by Christ's death and by our slow participation in it. Sentimentality is a skipping of this process in its concrete reality and an early arrival at a mock state of innocence, which strongly suggests its opposite.
The basis of art is truth, both in matter and in mode.
Where you come from is gone, where you thought you were going to never was there, and where you are is no good unless you can get away from it.
There was already a deep black wordless conviction in him that the way to avoid Jesus was to avoid sin.
If you live today, you breath in nihilism ... it's the gas you breathe. If I hadn't had the Church to fight it with or to tell me the necessity of fighting it, I would be the stinkingest logical positivist you ever saw right now.
You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you odd.
All my stories are about the action of grace on a character who is not very willing to support it, but most people think of these stories as hard, hopeless and brutal.
I come from a family where the only emotion respectable to show is irritation. In some this tendency produces hives, in others literature, in me both.
Only if we are secure in our beliefs can we see the comical side of the universe.
Most of us have learned to be dispassionate about evil, to look it in the face and find, as often as not, our own grinning reflections with which we do not argue, but good is another matter. Few have stared at that long enough to accept that its face too is grotesque, that in us the good is something under construction. The modes of evil usually receive worthy expression. The modes of good have to be satisfied with a cliche or a smoothing down that will soften their real look.
To expect too much is to have a sentimental view of life and this is a softness that ends in bitterness.
Where is there a place for you to be? No place... Nothing outside you can give you any place... In yourself right now is all the place you've got.
The operation of the Church is entirely set up for the sinner; which creates much misunderstanding among the smug.
At its best our age is an age of searchers and discoverers, and at its worst, an age that has domesticated despair and learned to live with it happily.
Conviction without experience makes for harshness.
People without hope not only don't write novels, but what is more to the point, they don't read them.
When there is a tendency to compartmentalize the spiritual and make it resident in a certain type of life only, the spiritual is apt gradually to be lost.
Faith is what someone knows to be true, whether they believe it or not.
I use the grotesque the way I do because people are deaf and dumb and need help to see and hear.
Art never responds to the wish to make it democratic; it is not for everybody; it is only for those who are willing to undergo the effort needed to understand it.
I have found, in short, from reading my own writing, that my subject in fiction is the action of grace in territory largely held by the devil.
I have also found that what I write is read by an audience which puts little stock either in grace or the devil. You discover your audience at the same time and in the same way that you discover your subject, but it is an added blow.
The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.
All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful.
Most of us come to the church by a means the church does not allow.
I think there is no suffering greater than what is caused by the doubts of those who want to believe. I know what torment this is, but I can only see it, in myself anyway, as the process by which faith is deepened. A faith that just accepts is a child's faith and all right for children, but eventually you have to grow religiously as every other way, though some never do.
The greatest dramas naturally involve the salvation or loss of the soul. Where there is no belief in the soul, there is very little drama.
I can, with one eye squinted, take it all as a blessing.
More next week. Any thoughts on these now?