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Flannery O'Connor's Sacramental Art
     

Flannery O'Connor's Sacramental Art

by Susan Srigley
 

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The writings and life of Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964) have enjoyed considerable attention both from admirers of her work and from scholars. In this distinctive book, Susan Srigley charts new ground in revealing how O'Connor's ethics are inextricably linked to her role as a storyteller, and how her moral vision is expressed through the dramatic narrative of her

Overview

The writings and life of Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964) have enjoyed considerable attention both from admirers of her work and from scholars. In this distinctive book, Susan Srigley charts new ground in revealing how O'Connor's ethics are inextricably linked to her role as a storyteller, and how her moral vision is expressed through the dramatic narrative of her fiction. Srigley elucidates O'Connor's sacramental vision by showing how it is embodied morally within her fiction as an ethic of responsibility. In developing this argument Srigley offers a detailed analysis of the Thomistic sources for O'Connor's understanding of theology and art. // Srigley contends that O'Connor's ethical vision of responsibility opens a fruitful path for understanding her religious ideas as they are expressed in the lives and loves of her fictional characters. O'Connor's characters show that responsibility is a living moral action not an abstract code of behavior. For O'Connor, ethical choices are not dictated by religious doctrine, but rather are an engagement with and response to reality. // Srigley further argues that O'Connor's ethics are not systematic, formulaic, or prescriptive. As a storyteller, she explores the moral complexities of life in their most concrete and dramatic form. Behaviors that appear in her fiction such as racism, sexism, or nihilism are exposed as inherently irresponsible. Approaching O'Connor's fiction from a moral perspective often better illuminates the dramatic struggle of a story, not because it offers a religious solution to a particular issue, but because the choices each character makes reveal a vision of reality that is either meaningful and sustainable or narrow and destructive. // Flannery O'Connor's Sacramental Art reveals O'Connor's role as a prophetic novelist whose moral questions speak to the modern world with rare force. It will be welcomed by anyone who appreciates the moral or religious dimensions of her writing.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Srigley’s Flannery O’Connor’s Sacramental Art offers further persuasive arguments for recognizing O’Connor’s spiritual aims in her fiction as necessary for a comprehensive appreciation of her work. In particular, Srigley offers a clear, penetrating analysis of the influence of Thomas Aquinas and Jacques Maritain on O’Connor’s writing. [T]he moral vision and ethic of responsibility that Srigley discerns in O’Connor’s fiction—neither of which absolutely require a belief in Christ—effectively opens the possibility for O’Connor’s fiction to be understood by an audience whom O’Connor could not count on sharing her theological assumptions.” —Religion & Literature

“Srigley . . . puts to rest any notion that Flannery O’Connor can be regarded as just another of the twentieth century’s secular specialists in the grotesque. Anyone seriously interested in her well-deserved place in America’s literary pantheon should take a look.” —Wilson Quarterly

“Susan Srigley mounts an able defense of Flannery O’Connor’s orthodoxy against critics who have argued that her use of the ‘grotesque’ was more Manichean than Catholic—i.e., that she divided matter from spirit. On the contrary, Srigley replies in Flannery O’Connor’s Sacramental Art, the author used the grotesque to hold a mirror up to modern times.” —New Oxford Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780268017804
Publisher:
University of Notre Dame Press
Publication date:
11/01/2004
Edition description:
1
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author

Susan Srigley is Professor of Religions and Cultures at Nipissing University in North Bay, Ontario, Canada. She is the editor of Dark Faith: New Essays on Flannery O'Connor's The Violent Bear It Away (University of Notre Dame Press, 2012).

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