a catholic literature?

Flannery-OConnor-001

In many of O’Connor’s best stories, “Parker’s Back” prominent among them, the religious theme is so subtly dramatized that it can be overlooked by casual readers unaware of the author’s larger purpose. Whatever else her fiction is, it is not Catholic propaganda.6 In the end, though, a critical approach that denies or downplays O’Connor’s faith will necessarily result in only a partial appreciation of her work. It is no more possible to understand a book like Wise Blood without taking Catholicism seriously—if only to reject it—than it is possible to understand the fiction of Isaac Bashevis Singer without taking Judaism seriously. The difference, of course, is that Singer viewed religion with reluctant skepticism, O’Connor with unswerving certitude. As I once wrote in these pages: O’Connor’s Christ-haunted characters differ profoundly from Singer’s demon-infested Jews. In O’Connor, unbelievers living in a fallen world tainted by modernity suddenly find themselves irradiated by grace, but, like Hazel Motes . . . they struggle in vain against its revelatory power. In Singer’s world, by contrast, there are no sudden revelations, only the unquenchable desire to believe, against all evidence to the contrary, that life has meaning.7

more from Terry Teachout at Commentary here.

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