At her death in 1964, O'Connor left behind a body of unpublished essays and lectures as well as a number of critical articles that had appeared in scattered publications during her too-short lifetime. The keen writings comprisingMystery and Manners, selected and edited by O'Connor's lifelong friends Sally and Robert Fitzgerald, are characterized by the directness and simplicity of the author's style, a fine-tuned wit, understated perspicacity, and profound faith.
The book opens with "The King of the Birds," her famous account of raising peacocks at her home in Milledgeville, Georgia. Also included are: three essays on regional writing, including "The Fiction Writer and His Country" and "Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction"; two pieces on teaching literature, including "Total Effect and the 8th Grade"; and four articles concerning the writer and religion, including "The Catholic Novel in the Protestant South." Essays such as "The Nature and Aim of Fiction" and "Writing Short Stories" are widely seen as gems.
This bold and brilliant essay-collection is a must for all readers, writers, and students of contemporary American literature.
About the author: Flannery O'Connor (1925–64) was born into an Irish Catholic family in Savannah, Georgia and is considered to be one of the giants of the Southern literary tradition. She wrote two novels and thirty-two short stories, most of them infused with Catholic themes, as well as a number of reviews and essays, virtually all of which remain in print in book form. She died tragically at the age of 39 from a painful and crippling neurological disease.
"Flannery O'Connor ranks with Mark Twain and Scott Fitzgerald among our finest prose stylists. Her epigrams alone are worth the price of the book . . . which should be read by every writer and would-be writer and lover of writing."-- John Leonard, The New York Times
"[O'Connor] was not just the best 'woman writer' of [her] time and place; she expressed something secret about America, called 'the South,' with that transcendent gift for expressing the real spirit of a culture that is conveyed by those writers . . . who become nothing but what they see. Completeness is one word for it: relentlessness [and] unsparingness would be others. She was a genius."-- Alfred Kazin, The New York Times Book Review
Mystery and Manners, Table of Contents