flannery o’connor, whose birthday was yesterday

Flannery-wikimediacommons-ledeEllen Douglas from a 1975 peice for The New Republic:

Flannery O'Connor, a Southerner and a Catholic, removed herself from the secular, convictionless global village and built her life in a specific place and on a specific faith. She wrote: “As a novelist, the major part of my task is to make everything, even an ultimate concern, as solid, as concrete, as specific as possible. The novelist begins his work where human knowledge begins—with the senses; he works through the limita- tions of matter and unless he is writing fantasy, he has to stay within the concrete possibilities of his culture. He is bound by his particular past and by those institutions and traditions that this past has left to his society. The Judaeo-Christian tradition has formed us in the West; we are bound to it by ties which may often be invisible, but which are there, nevertheless. It has formed the shape of our secularism; it has formed even the shape of modern atheism. . . .

“The writer learns, perhaps more quickly than the reader, to be humble in the face of what-is. What-is is all he has to do with; the concrete is his medium and he will realize eventually that fiction can transcend its limitations only by staying within them.”

more here.