The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #89: Flannery O'Connor

General Introduction
- This time David’s sick
- Advising time
- Old English
- Listener feedback

Who Was Flannery O’Connor?
- Contemporary popularity
- Iowa Writer’s Workshop
- Christian theology
- Appeal to the layman
- Lupus and teleology
- Other Southern writers

“A Good Man Is Hard to Find”
- In conversation, in the classroom
- Spoilers ahead
- What is goodness?
- Is the grandmother saved?
- Throwing everything off balance
- A fundamentalist choice
- Aristocratic superiority
- How crazy is the grandmother?

“Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction”
- Balking at novelistic orthodoxy
- Social fiction and the grotesque
- Realism of distances
- Theological sense of moral judgment

“Good Country People”
- Grotesque names for grotesque people
- Chrustian service
- Seeing through to nothing
- Damned to be oneself
- Autobiography
- Awfulness without history
- O’Connor’s method

“Revelation”
- From judgment to redemption
- I AM NOT A WARTHOG FROM HELL!
- Rejoicing in Purgatory
- Praying to idols
- Why a revelation?

The Hillbilly Thomist
- The physical and spiritual worlds
- The educated liberal
- The contemptible contemptuous

6 comments
Jonas_MN
Jonas_MN

The summer after I graduated from college, I decided it was time to read all of O'Connor's stories. I read one per day. That was a good pace, as it allowed me to give each story its due but also keep some momentum through the book. Jill Pelaez Baumgaertner's book, A Proper Scaring, has excellent commentary on almost all the stories, plus the novels. (She says that the fake leg represents Hulga's hollow philosophy, and once it is removed, Hulga is put in a position where she must depend on something else. This is O'Connor's great theme: grace through violence.) Speaking of the novels... It's been a day since I listened to the podcast, but I don't think they were even mentioned!

Michial Farmer
Michial Farmer

Jonas_MN I like Baumgaertner's book, though I think it puts O'Connor into a little too neat of a system. I wrote a paper in graduate school arguing that stories like "Everything That Rises Must Converge" are a species of self-condemnation for trying to teach the reader "a lesson." I deal with "Wise Blood" in my dissertation, so I imagine that'll come up whenever we have that episode. I haven't read "Everything That Rises" in years but do not remember enjoying it. O'Connor was best when she kept it short, as far as I can tell.

ngilmour
ngilmour

Jonas_MN Two reasons for that, Jonas: 1) Even with just 3 stories and an essay, we were clocking in close to an hour and a half (we had to have an emergency huddle at the hour-and-ten mark and decide to cut out "Everything that Rises Must Converge") 2) Since I was at the helm, and I've not read O'Connor's novels, I didn't want to make Michial (and possibly David) discuss things with which I'm not familiar.

Charles H
Charles H

I've never read any O'Connor.  I made it about fifteen minutes into the podcast before y'all started talking about spoilers and how the endings of her stories need to be experienced.  So I turned off the podcast and checked out a collection of her stories from the library.  I'll have to get back to you on my reaction to the rest of the podcast, after I do some reading.

ngilmour
ngilmour

Charles H Good call, Charles.  Her stories aren't long, and you'll really get more from the stories if you don't go in knowing how they end.

Jakemanspiff
Jakemanspiff

I had an interesting thought while listening to this week's podcast: could we not derive a new understanding of both stories and of Southern literature in general if we read "A Good Man Is Hard To Find" in conversation with Capote's "In Cold Blood" (even though the latter was published a good ten years after the former)?