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Παρασκευή, 23 Ιουνίου 2017

Wise Blood


by Flannery O'Connor



Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964), is another southerner belonging to the writers called “Southern Agrarians”, working in the 1930s and 40s in the American South.

She was born in Savannah and studied creative writing at the Iowa Writers' Workshop.

 She was afflicted by lupus, a serious illness and died at the age of 39.

She was a Catholic and has been considered a religious writer, but she was more than that.

Her book Wise Blood is about Hazel Motes, a soldier who got wounded at the war somewhere in Asia and returns home to nobody actually and with no faith anymore-although he used to wander around with his grandfather, a preacher, before the war and preach love for Christ.

After the experience he has at war, he becomes-or wants to become- a nihilist and wants to create a new church the Church without Christ.

He buys an old car, an old Essex and travels all over the area, trying to preach the new faith, with the new Christ who does not promise any redemption to people.

 His eyes 
“don’t look like they see what he is looking at, but they keep on looking”,
 Sabbath Lily Hawks says about him, whom she tries to seduce.

She is the daughter of a “blind” preacher, a Protestant just like Hazel’s grandfather was. He tries to get rid of his daughter just like another father in the book does for his son, who suffers some mental illness and believes he has wise blood that tells him what is right to do and who also meets Hazel and wants to become the first and only member of his new church, the Church without Christ.


The symbolisms and the violence, of parents on their children, of the police on civilians and Hazel Motes’s on a fake preacher he meets and kills, is all over the story.

O' Connor's grotesqueness is due to her being a Catholic believer. At least that's what she wants us to believe through her letters and essays. But there could be other explanations like for example social reasons. The woman of the South in the middle of the twentieth century, had to be taking care of her beauty both physically and in manners (etiquette). But as O' Connor suffered of lupus, she was distorted with swellings and bloatings. So all this suffering and distortion in her work may be the result of a reaction to this cultural oppression for beauty on the women of her times. So it's the violence of Southern culture which does not only affect the culture of femininity of the South but goes way beyond it. We read about murdered, abused, abandoned children in the book, about police brutality and of course there is overt racism for colored people and poor whites.


Like all the writers after the wave of Modernism in Literature, Flannery follows the letter of the schools of creative writing and produces Wise Blood , which is an interesting, religion-centered but not only, post modern novel.


I would recommend it to those who have a deeper interest in Literature or those who just like to listen to strange stories of the religious, racist, American South of the beginnings of the 20th century.

I really enjoyed reading it and, I am NOT a religious person.


Coming next in the course is

3. Lolita
by Vladimir Nabokov

which will be analyzed by our professor Amy Hungerford, in her familiar by now way of setting questions for us to think on another one of "the most compelling novels written in the last half of the 20th century" that she thought of including in her course.










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