Jim Shepard’s teaching copy of Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard to Find.
Freedom, true freedom as O’Connor defines it, one proffered to man by a God of order, requires the annihilation of self, the destruction of pride, vanity, inordinate self-interest, and respectability to achieve saving grace. It is a lesson O’Connor’s characters must learn the hard way and one we, her readers, engulfed as we are in an age increasingly technological, material, and wholly sensual, where religion has been reduced to the quaintness of long discarded habits, are in danger of not learning at all.
Rita Mae Reese
When we eat wheat we devour the sun
so in this room filled with permanent flowers
let us celebrate not with fasting
but with Red Sammy Butts’ barbecue.
Lord, let us sink to our knees under the weight
of Southern appetites. Let us devour
meatballs & turnip greens, rum…
Flannery O’Connor, letter to Shirley Abbott, 17 March 1956
Flannery O’Connor, letter to Eileen Hall, 10 March 56
When you write a novel, if you have been honest about it and if your conscience is clear, then it seems to me that you have to leave the rest in God’s hands. When the book leaves your hands, it belongs to God. He may use it to save a few souls or to try a few others, but I think that for the writer to worry about this is to take over God’s business.
Flannery O’Connor, letter to Eileen Hall, 10 March 1956
As an undergraduate I didn’t even know what fiction was but in graduate school I began to find out by reading and writing it. I think this is about the only way to find out…
Flannery O’Connor, letter to Shirley Abbott, 7 March 1956