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The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O'Connor. New York. 1960. Farrar Straus & Cudahy. 243 pages. hardcover. Jacket design by Milton Glaser. 

violent bear it awayFROM THE PUBLISHER -

   In this novel Flannery O’Connor is at the top of her powers. THE VIOLENT BEAR IT AWAY displays her astonishing gifts for satire with compassion and for pathos with humor. It tells the story of Francis Marion Tarwater, an orphan who lives backcountry with his great-uncle in Powderhead, Tennessee. Before the old man dies, he prophesies Tarwater’s fate: the Lord will call him to be a prophet. Another crucial prophecy he makes is to Rayber, his nephew, a schoolteacher, about Rayber’s son, Bishop: ‘Either Tarwater or me is going to baptize that child. If not me in my day, him in his.’ At the old man’s death, little Bishop, thanks to Rayber’s alert opposition, remains unbaptized, and on Tarwater falls the burden of baptizing him. A struggle over Bishop begins between Tarwater and Rayber. The clash between these two temperaments provides some of the funniest episodes in the book, as Rayber exerts himself to the straining point in his sincere desire to rescue Tarwater’s mind from darkness. Yet Tarwater, interiorly, is undergoing a struggle of his own. He does not want to be either prophet or baptist; he shows extraordinary strengths within himself in resisting his fate. The story moves inexorably to its climax and an outcome which neither Rayber nor Tarwater could foresee. In its special number devoted to ‘The American Imagination,’ the Times Literary Supplement praised Flannery O’Connor’s ‘merciless humour, extraordinary composure, and a compassion so universal that it raises all her local characters to a universal scale.’ These qualities of her special genius are so vividly present in this novel, and are set forth in prose of such clarity and vigor as to make THE VIOLENT BEAR IT AWAY clearly her most important work.

 

 

OConnor FlanneryMary Flannery O'Connor (March 25, 1925 – August 3, 1964) was an American writer and essayist, was born in Savannah, Georgia. An important voice in American literature, O'Connor wrote two novels and 32 short stories, as well as a number of reviews and commentaries. She was a Southern writer who often wrote in a Southern Gothic style and relied heavily on regional settings and grotesque characters. O'Connor's writing also reflected her own Roman Catholic faith, and frequently examined questions of morality and ethics. Her Complete Stories won the 1972 U.S. National Book Award for Fiction and was named the ‘Best of the National Book Awards’ by internet visitors in 2009. One of her hobbies was raising peacocks.

 

 

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