"I would like to write a beautiful prayer," writes the young Flannery O'Connor in this deeply spiritual journal, recently discovered among her papers in Georgia. "There is a whole sensible world around me that I should be able to turn to Your praise." Written between 1946 and 1947 while O'Connor was a student far from home at the University of Iowa, A Prayer Journal is a rare portal into the interior life of the great writer. Not only does it map O'Connor's singular relationship with the divine, but it shows how entwined her literary desire was with her yearning for God. "I must write down that I am to be an artist. Not in the sense of aesthetic frippery but in the sense of aesthetic craftsmanship; otherwise I will feel my loneliness continually . . . I do not want to be lonely all my life but people only make us lonelier by reminding us of God. Dear God please help me to be an artist, please let it lead to You."
O'Connor could not be more plain about her literary ambition: "Please help me dear God to be a good writer and to get something else accepted," she writes. Yet she struggles with any trace of self-regard: "Don't let me ever think, dear God, that I was anything but the instrument for Your story."
As W. A. Sessions, who knew O'Connor, writes in his introduction, it was no coincidence that she began writing the stories that would become her first novel, Wise Blood, during the years when she wrote these singularly imaginative Christian meditations. Including a facsimile of the entire journal in O'Connor's own hand, A Prayer Journal is the record of a brilliant young woman's coming-of-age, a cry from the heart for love, grace, and art.
|Publisher:||Farrar, Straus and Giroux|
|Product dimensions:||6.10(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
Flannery O'Connor was born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1925. A devoted Catholic, she lived most of her life on a farm in Milledgeville, Georgia, where she raised peacocks and wrote. She was the author of two novels, Wise Blood and The Violent Bear It Away; thrity-one short stories; and numerous essays and reviews. When she died at the age of thirty-nine, America lost one of its most gifted writers at the height of her powers. Her complete short stories, published posthumously in 1971, received the National Book Award for fiction.
Read an Excerpt
“Dear God, I cannot love Thee the way I want to. You are the slim crescent of a moon that I see and my self is the earth’s shadow that keeps me from seeing all the moon . . .
“I do not know you God because I a m in the way. Please help me to push myself aside . . .
“I do not mean to deny the traditional prayers I have said all my life; but I have been saying them and not feeling them. My attention is always very fugitive. This way I have it every instant. I can feel a warmth of love heating me when I think & write this to You.”
—from A Prayer Journal
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Have never before (this side of Apostle Paul) come across a writer who so directly and dearly confronts the spiritual challenge of writing as both a humble servant of the Word and fierce student and steward of all that can be honest and true, artful and excellent, in mastery of the written word. As much and as deeply as she could perceive the art of writing to be an act of prayer — in both supplication and praise — young Flannery O'Connor here pours her richly churning heart and soul into her journal entries intended for the "editorial" ministrations of none other than her loving and beloved God incarnate. It's a thrill and a comfort to sit with her as she writes. And this volume aids in that deep appreciation by providing facsimile copies of handwritten pages from her original Journal. One of the best, brightest books I will have read from 2013. Or, ever.
Beautiful book, very interesting and inspiring reading!