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Wise Blood

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Overview

Wise Blood, Flannery O’Connor’s astonishing and haunting first novel, is a classic of twentieth-century literature. It is the story of Hazel Motes, a twenty-two-year-old caught in an unending struggle against his innate, desperate fate. He falls under the spell of a “blind” street preacher named Asa Hawks and his degenerate fifteen-year-old daughter, Sabbath Lily. In an ironic, malicious gesture of his own non-faith, and to prove himself a greater cynic than Hawks, Hazel Motes founds the Church of God Without ...

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Wise Blood: A Novel

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Overview

Wise Blood, Flannery O’Connor’s astonishing and haunting first novel, is a classic of twentieth-century literature. It is the story of Hazel Motes, a twenty-two-year-old caught in an unending struggle against his innate, desperate fate. He falls under the spell of a “blind” street preacher named Asa Hawks and his degenerate fifteen-year-old daughter, Sabbath Lily. In an ironic, malicious gesture of his own non-faith, and to prove himself a greater cynic than Hawks, Hazel Motes founds the Church of God Without Christ, but is still thwarted in his efforts to lose God. He meets Enoch Emery, a young man with “wise blood,” who leads him to a mummified holy child and whose crazy maneuvers are a manifestation of Hazel’s existential struggles. This tale of redemption, retribution, false prophets, blindness, blindings, and wisdom gives us one of the most riveting characters in twentieth-century American fiction.

Wise Blood is the story of Hazel Motes of Eastrod, Tennessee. He returns from World War II and back at home falls under the spell of street preacher Asa Hawks and his daughter, Lily Sabbath Hawks.

Motes sets about preaching his own 'word': a new religion called The Church Without Christ. Of course he runs into conflict with Hawks. The beauty and power of the book come out of O'Connor's brutal depiction of the characters you love to hate who turn up unexpectedly.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is a tale in which pathos tips into pathology and violence, answered by a penance of self-mutilation and suffering. Yet the prose is absolutely brilliant, sentence by sentence, simile by simile, and so relentlessly inventive it feels comic." —Marilynne Robinson, New York Times Book Review

"No other major American writer of our century has constructed a fictional world so energetically and forthrightly charged by religious investigation." —Brad Leithauser, The New Yorker

 

"I was more impressed by Wise Blood than any novel I have read for a long time. Her picture of the world is literally terrifying. Kafka is almost the only one of our contemporaries who has achieved such effects. I have tremendous admiration for the work of this young writer." —Caroline Gordon

William Goyen
There is in Flannery O'Connor a fierceness of literary gesture, an angriness of observation, a facility for catching, as an animal eye in a wilderness, cunningly and at one sharp glance, the shape and detail and animal intention of enemy and foe. -- Books of the Century, The New York Times review May, 1952
Publishers Weekly
Bronson Pinchot turns in a virtuosic performance of O'Connor's darkly comic classic first novel. After serving a stint in the army, Hazel Motes finds himself adrift, alone, and rent by spiritual confusion. Pinchot's narration is superb: dynamic, well paced, and infused with a perfect Southern drawl. Instead of simply creating voices for the characters, Pinchot embodies them. His Hazel is nasty, nasally, and angry; his Enoch Emery boasts a congested twang; and the entire cast is likewise brought to life by Pinchot's precise and perceptive characterizations and his brilliant evocation of O'Conner's grotesqueries. A Farrar, Straus, and Giroux paperback. (Aug.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374530631
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 2/6/2007
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 72,683
  • Lexile: 920L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.19 (w) x 8.16 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Flannery O'Connor was born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1925. When she died at the age of thirty-nine, America lost one of its most gifted writers at the height of her powers. O’Connor wrote two novels, Wise Blood (1952) and The Violent Bear It Away (1960), and two story collections, A Good Man Is Hard to Find (1955) and Everything That Rises Must Converge (1964). Her Complete Stories, published posthumously in 1972, won the National Book Award that year, and in a 2009 online poll it was voted as the best book to have won the award in the contest’s 60-year history. Her essays were published in Mystery and Manners (1969) and her letters in The Habit of Being (1979). In 1988 the Library of America published her Collected Works; she was the first postwar writer to be so honored. O’Connor was educated at the Georgia State College for Women, studied writing at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and wrote much of Wise Blood at the Yaddo artists’ colony in upstate New York. She lived most of her adult life on her family’s ancestral farm, Andalusia, outside Milledgeville, Georgia.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 20 )
Rating Distribution

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(5)

4 Star

(7)

3 Star

(5)

2 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 20 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2008

    Uncomfortable

    I read this book for school and it was hard but it really is a great book. The way she writes is completley different from the structure you are use to seeing in a novel and she wants to make you uncomfortable to draw in your attention. For anyone who has the patience to really get a reward out of what they read, I recomend this book

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2003

    redeemed

    this is a brilliant piece written by an extremely gifted lady who passed through this life far too soon.i have seen a movie approx. 20 years ago on showtime about this book.it was truly a classic as well.she was able to capture the rural south in her work.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2003

    Wouldn't recommend it...

    I just read it for school and it took me a month to take each word in. The way she writes is grotesque and something that I would not want to read again. It was ok, but the language and spiritual context made me quite uneasy.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 3, 2012

    Phenomenal

    O'Connor puts up a dark view of life, and she did not even have the experience of dealing with a recalcitrant and fraudulent Barnes and Noble. It took less time to read this carefully honed novel than to get it delivered.
    The writing is tight and you want to believe every word counts. But don't bet on it, as the insights into the minds of the deranged are realistic: lots of what a crazy person says doesn't amount to anything, but hands over a compelling nutcracker for your own mind.
    A great book, not for entertainment but for cracking open new channels in your own mind. Wonderful use of language, simply crafted.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 2, 2012

    great writing & something different

    if you are like me & always looking for interesting but great writers, do yourself a favor & get this one. i don't like regular stories where the end is going to work out fine & i enjoy the psychogical whirrings of people's mind a bit off the beaten path. if this sounds like what you like get this. she's a great writer and i couldn't put it down. i alread ordered another of O'Connor's books. i'd rather review it like this, as you can read from anywhere what it's about. enjoy.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2010

    Recommended - a rare work of literature

    Flannery O'Connor's style of writing is very precise and purposeful. This is not a book for easy pleasure reading or uplifting encouragement. It is, however, beautiful with its hidden truths and extremely metaphorical. Her fictional world of gorilla suits, lying preachers, and a Church Without Christ accurately reflects the modern religious world. O'Connor's perception is grotesquely eerie and stimulating in its challenge: what constitutes faith.
    Religion in this novel is either associated with immorality or meeting "needs in Life" - which is so true today and also portrayed in Stephen Crane's beliefs of selling patterns of God to others.
    Highly recommended to those interested in a slightly different, perhaps even cynical, perspective of religion - does not matter whether you are Christian, Catholic, anything, as her convictions are universally applicable in its strangeness.
    Warning: may seem extremely strange and despairing, but in actuality ends with inward justification and satisfaction.
    Definitely a classic and a keeper.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 12, 2009

    Wierd

    I keep reading that Flannery O'Connor is one of the best writers of her time. Must have been given that honor based on some other book. I never met such an unlikeable cast of characters. Yes, they were well portrayed, and created a definite image in my mind, but I still wanted to kick all their butts. I kept waiting for them to do something useful and interesting, but they just wandered around this low-life town annoying one another. But if you like Andy Warhol and the kind of paintings where most people scratch their heads and say "what's it supposed to be?", this book is for you.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2012

    Must read

    This has always been a favorite book of mine. Growing up in the South - this is a must-have for the shelf.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2006

    confusing

    it is a very confusing book ,i didnt like it i was interested the first 7 min only.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2004

    excellent

    I read this novel for class, because the idea of a Church Without Christ struck my fancy. O'Connor's grotesque style was quite humorous and sadly, truthful of the American South. A terrific novel about how the quest for freedom from religion/conscience becomes a study in the futility of self-will.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2003

    Really not even one star

    I found the book appalling. It's supposedly widely aclaimed and an incredible piece, but that's also what they say about catcher in the rye, which I also found to be a terrible book. Wise Blood isn't something I would EVER recommend to anyone (well maybe if they are certifiable). It really had no point and was so scrambled I could barely keep interested for more than 20 minutes at a time.

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2003

    Strange but Interesting

    I liked this book. It wasn't that great, but I really loved the characters because they were so different.

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    Posted March 19, 2010

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    Posted May 27, 2009

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    Posted May 29, 2010

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    Posted May 23, 2011

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    Posted July 1, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2010

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    Posted June 25, 2009

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