An interesting post on Flannery O’Connor at University Diaries. Margaret Soltan, the author of UD, has a grudging respect for O’Connor’s skill as a writer, combined with a deep antipathy to her sense of the connection between grace and violence:
O’Connor believes we’re blind fools blundering through existence in the baddest of bad faith. Bestially dumb to human and spiritual realities, we receive our inevitable epiphanies as cartoonish hammer blows to the head.
Sounds sort of right to me, though I wonder whether O’Connor wouldn’t see this as a Northern misreading of her Southern sensibility. Anyone know more about O’Connor in this regard?
I learned recently, by the way, that Flannery O’Connor lived for several years in the middle part of the century with the translator Robert Fitzgerald and his wife in my home town of Redding, CT. In middle school they made a big deal of the fact that Mark Twain lived the last two years of his life in Redding. Somehow, they never mentioned O’Connor.
About Sean D. Kelly
Sean Dorrance Kelly is the Teresa G. and Ferdinand F. Martignetti Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University. He is also Faculty Dean at Dunster House, one of the twelve undergraduate Houses at Harvard. He served for six years as chair of Harvard's Department of Philosophy.
Kelly earned an Sc.B. in Mathematics and Computer Science and an M.S. in Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences from Brown University in 1989. After three years as a Ph.D. student in Logic and Methodology of Science, he received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley in 1998.
Before arriving at Harvard in 2006, Kelly taught at Stanford and Princeton, and he was a Visiting Professor at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris.
Sean Kelly's work focuses on various aspects of the philosophical, phenomenological, and cognitive neuroscientific nature of human experience. He is a world authority on 20th century European Philosophy, specializing in the work of Martin Heidegger and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. He has also done influential work in philosophy of mind and philosophy of perception.
Kelly has published articles in numerous journals and anthologies and he has received fellowships or awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEH, the NSF and the James S. McDonnell Foundation, among others.
Fun fact: He appeared on The Colbert Show in 2011 to talk about All Things Shining.
Sean Kelly lives at Dunster House with his wife, the Harvard Philosopher Cheryl Kelly Chen, and their two boys, Benjamin and Nathaniel.
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I think the word ‘cartoonish’ is wrong here, because as the blogger says these stories are masterpieces. Other than that I think O’Connor would accede to most of this, and that her humility in doing so would be real.
Odd that the writer links Hulga and Mrs. Turpin, even though they are clearly opposite characters: in fact Mrs. Turpin has a hostile encounter with a Hulga clone in a waiting room at the beginning of “A Revelation.”
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