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A Political Companion to Flannery O'Connor

Acclaimed author and Catholic thinker Flannery O'Connor (1925–1964) penned two novels, two collections of short stories, various essays, and numerous book reviews over the course of her life. Her work continues to fascinate, perplex, and inspire new generations of readers and poses important questions about human nature, ethics, social change, equality, and justice. Although political philosophy was not O'Connor's pursuit, her writings frequently address themes that are not only crucial to American life and culture, but also offer valuable insight into the interplay between fiction and politics.

A Political Companion to Flannery O'Connor explores the author's fiction, prose, and correspondence to reveal her central ideas about political thought in America. The contributors address topics such as O'Connor's affinity with writers and philosophers including Eric Voegelin, Edith Stein, Russell Kirk, and the Agrarians; her attitudes toward the civil rights movement; and her thoughts on controversies over eugenics. Other essays in the volume focus on O'Connor's influences, the principles underlying her fiction, and the value of her work for understanding contemporary intellectual life and culture.

Examining the political context of O'Connor's life and her responses to the critical events and controversies of her time, this collection offers meaningful interpretations of the political significance of this influential writer's work.

About the Authors

Henry T. Edmondson III is Carl Vinson Endowed Chair of Political Science and Public Administration at Georgia College, Flannery O'Connor's alma mater. He is the editor of The Moral of the Story: Literature and Public Ethics and the author of Return to Good and Evil: Flannery O'Connor's Response to Nihilism.

Reviews

"This volume outlines the major debates about O'Connor's work in a clear and accessible way for both O'Connor scholars and general readers interested in the intersections between politics and literature. The extensive use of O'Connor's recently opened correspondence is particularly valuable."—Joseph H. Lane Jr., coeditor of A Political Companion to Marilynne Robinson

"The essays in this impressive volume nicely demonstrate why Flannery O'Connor's reputation continues to rise. The contributors bring their deep knowledge of Southern Agrarianism, civil rights, Catholic doctrine, Baroque aesthetics, and various conservative and Catholic thinkers to bear on O'Connor's stories, essays, and letters, revealing the topical complexity and human insight of her work. In the future, this volume will be one of the first resources to which I shall direct students who are reading O'Connor and searching for scholarly guidance."—Mark Bauerlein, coeditor of The State of the American Mind: 16 Leading Critics on the New Anti-Intellectualism

"A Political Companion to Flannery O'Connor is a strong collection of major critical voices that manages to offer both traditional and fresh readings of O'Connor's fiction. The essays are traditional in their consistent focus on O'Connor as a theologically oriented artist, but their freshness lies in their consideration of her Christian positions in relation to political philosophy, actions, and communities. It opens with John Sykes especially useful study of how O'Connor both draws on and challenges the work of the Agrarians, many of whom she knew well, and includes a number of informative influence studies. At the same time, it includes more speculative pieces such as Christina Bieber Lake's essay examining how O'Connor' Thomistic thoughts connects to ideas of personhood developing in the 21st century. The book's authors make use of names familiar within O'Connor studies such as Baron Friedrich von Hügel and Simone Weil while also introducing new connections to thinkers such as Msgr. Ivan Illich and Russell Kirk. As a whole, it demonstrates that there is much more to O'Connor scholarship than  interpretative readings. There are depths to be plunged, and this book takes a challenging, deep dive."—Robert Donahoo, coeditor of Flannery O'Connor in the Age of Terrorism: Essays on Violence and Grace

"As a whole, this collection offers a wide-ranging treatment of the life and work of a woman who, while avoiding the topical, has managed to continually challenge readers from her own day to ours."—Englewood Review of Books

"In this excellent and informative compilation, O'Connor scholars provide invaluable insight into the political dimensions of the famed author's thinking and writing."—Choice

"This 398 page clothbound edition is a goldmine of perceptive articles by a wide variety of authors on the life, formation, thought and work of this seminal Southern author. A Political Companion to Flannery O'Connor [is] enlightening, refreshing and pleasing. And if you have only dabbled in O'Connor's works, this is an important read that may turn you from a dabbler to a devotee. I highly recommend this book!"—Deus Misereatur

"This book, carefully exploring both her intellectual influences and re-reading the micropolitics of her fiction for its macropolitical implications, is a valuable contribution to O'Connor studies and beyond. A mix of established O'Connor thinkers and newer voices balances this collection. Well written overall and sharply editedthe text as a whole offers new insights into the political valences of O'Connor's writing and life."—The Flannery O'Connor Review

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