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The Violent Bear it Away

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  6,227 ratings  ·  458 reviews
First published in 1960, The Violent Bear It Away is now a landmark in American literature. It is a dark and absorbing example of the Gothic sensibility and bracing satirical voice that are united in Flannery O'Conner's work. In it, the orphaned Francis Marion Tarwater and his cousins, the schoolteacher Rayber, defy the prophecy of their dead uncle--that Tarwater will beco ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published January 1st 1960 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellThe Help by Kathryn StockettThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark TwainFried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
Best Southern Literature
71st out of 851 books — 2,125 voters
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeThe Outsiders by S.E. HintonOne Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken KeseyA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'EngleSlaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Best Books of the Decade: 1960's
109th out of 714 books — 961 voters

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Community Reviews

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Paul Bryant

It often seems that novelists have taken it upon themselves to compile a comprehensive catalogue of all of the thousand and one ways human beings can contrive to be unpleasant to one another.

This novel is one such. Although you may say it’s more about how God contrives to be unpleasant to human beings.

Right at the beginning it’s like going to a big gig – I’m in the audience and we’re all so stoked up that even when we know the band won’t be out for at least 45 minutes, when the roadie c
I know virtually nothing about Flannery O’Connor’s life and outlook on life. I know that she was a Catholic and that she raised peacocks and that she died too young, of lupus. That’s about it. She also inherited, either through blood or Southern literary tradition, a fire-and-brimstone vision of life and human passions, and more than even Wise Blood, The Violent Bear it Away is an expression of this vision.

Seems the only characters that really matter to O’Connor are the extremists, either in th
Edward Lorn
Can we chat for a minute, fam? Good. I'll try and make it quick.

This is my favorite type of book. If stories like this were still popular, this would be the only kind of book I'd write. Strong opener and then loads upon loads of character development and realistic dialogue followed by a Holy-Shit! ending. I love getting to know a character and then witnessing the dismantling of that character. I'm a tinkerer at heart. I like to see the way things work. Show me a character's very soul, tear it ap
“You have to quit confusing a madness with a mission.”
― Flannery O'Connor, The Violent Bear it Away


O'Connor was ruthless in her vision. The struggle of Tarwater and his uncle Rayber against their joint destinies and the pull of fundamentalism and secularism is fully realized in this short novel. 'The Violent Bear it Away' is biblical, American, and absolutely brutal in both its imagery of destruction and language of redemption. I can only think of a handful of writers who seem to grab both my b
La polvere e il cappello

“Al suo fianco, ritto come una guida c'era l'amico fedele, snello come un'ombra, che l'aveva consigliato in campagna e in città. Affrettati, diceva, il tempo è danaro, e il danaro è sangue, e il tempo trasforma il sangue in polvere”.

L'amore per Dio è un amore violento, che porta via il male dal regno dei cieli; la devastazione e il delitto portano con sé la grazia, la follia si coniuga con la fede. La forza interiore e spirituale giunge alla rivelazione e all'estasi attra
João Carlos

Flannery OConnor (1925 – 1964)

A escritora Flannery OConnor (1925 – 1964) é unanimemente reconhecida como um dos expoentes máximos da literatura norte-americana do século XX, particularmente aclamada pela genialidade dos seus trinta e dois contos, coligidos em dois volumes: “Um Bom Homem É Difícil De Encontrar” e “ Tudo O Que Sobe Deve Convergir”, que combinam o cómico, o violento, o trágico e o brutal.
“Sangue Sábio” e o “Céu É Dos Violentos” são os seus dois únicos romances publicados e que se i
It's hard to review O'Connor. I've started typing this several times only to start over again. Because try as I might I can't define what it is that O'Connor's writing stirs up inside of me. It's something heavy and dark. It's that awful mysterious energy that seethes just beneath the surface of her cryptic prose. It's shapeless and strange and, like all worthwhile things, it means different things to different people.

This book is a screaming hell-bound freight-train. Its a dark mirror held up
Everyone should read Flannery O'Connor, but I wouldn't start with this novel. First read some short stories--my favorite is Good Country People. But this novel is well written and very her. I love her bizzareness and the Southernness that just pervades everything she writes. Her characters are so amazingly real and yet completely unreal at the same time. She makes the unbelievable believable without seeming to try.
I read this in one go, sitting up late in bed. I thinking I was shaking when I finished it. I've only (voluntarily) stayed up late reading something for a class a few times, and I think they were all for this same course. I can't remember the professor's name and don't think she got tenure, but man was she good at picking books.
Mar 14, 2015 William1 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, us, 20-ce
Religious fanaticism in the American sticks. An old man, a soi-disant prophet of Christ, a fanatic, a nut job, steals an orphan named Tarwater from his citified nephew's home and bolts to the backwoods to raise him in the way of the Lord -- and to make moonshine. The boy receives a highly selective version of homeschooling from the old man. They are isolated in the sticks from society of any kind, not counting the occassional buyer. As the novel opens the old man has died at the breakfast table ...more
Joe Valdez
Published in 1960, The Violent Bear It Away is the second and (due to her death at the age of 39), final novel by Flannery O'Connor. Chapter 1 had been published in 1955 as You Can't Be Any Poorer Than Dead in the literary journal New World Writing. I read it in O'Connor's masterful short story collection The Complete Stories, so this story and characters were as familiar to me as an old ghost story.

The novel is the account of fourteen-year-old Francis Marion Tarwater, raised solely by a man cla
Leggendo i commenti degli altri utenti si può evincere che questo è un libro che tocca corde profonde in ciascuno di noi. Si esprimono note di biasimo, di disgusto o critiche al cristianesimo (quanta ingenuità!) oppure si elogia la grandezza dell'autrice e la forza del suo stile. Un dato è certo: è un libro con contenuti forti, è un libro che fa male. Da un lato c'è il fanatismo religioso, quindi non solo cristiano, dall'altra parte il fanatismo del raziocinio, della scienza. Fa da trade d'union ...more
Sometimes, verbs can be so inadequate. I really can't say that I "liked" The Violent Bear It Away A Novel by Flannery O'Connor. On the other hand, I can't say I "didn't like" it either. Maybe what I can say is that this book "moved" me, but in a negative way. Maybe the verb I want is "disturbed". Now, I do like reading books that make me feel something strongly, even if if that feeling is negative. This definite falls into that category.

I do have to say that I'm very, very glad that I have read
Proctodeal Trophallaxus
I read this book after finishing her collected short stories and Wise Blood, her first novel. None of her other work prepared me for this, her cynical, paranoid mind fuck of a novel. Her prose, as always, is clear and excellent, and she once again explores faith and its absence in a way that allows for no easy solutions, no pat answers. But Christ on a crutch is this a difficult book. One of the things I love about her work is the wry sense of humor laced through it, balancing out the dark theme ...more
L’immediato approccio con il romanzo è il titolo. Esso è tratto da un versetto del Vangelo di Matteo, e ciò subito induce a pensare che la scelta della scrittrice americana cattolica, credente, praticante e rigorosa non avrebbe potuto essere diversa. La religiosità permea ogni pagina ed è la “ratio” profonda dell’opera.
Come si manifesta il divino nella vita dell’uomo? Si chiede Flannery O’ Connor . In modi e forme misteriose all’uomo stesso, scelte discrezionalmente da Dio, ma -e questo il messa
When it comes to religion, I find O'Connor much like Dostoevsky in that she is able to present a series of characters and situations that to me very forcefully illustrate the non-existence of God, while I'm certain she creates them to argue the complete opposite.

So, spoiler alert I guess. Francis Marion Tarwater, a fourteen year old sociopathic (and possibly schizophrenic) murderer with delusions of biblical grandeur is not reached whatsoever by the secular-minded uncle who attempts to help him
You could view The Violent Bear it Away as a companion novel to Flannery O’Connor’s earlier Wise Blood. The are the only two novels O’Connor published and, separated by only 8 years, both focus on the author’s religious views.

But in many ways, both are novels about insanity. To O’Connor, religious zealots and secular absolutists suffer the same delusions. Hazel Motes of Wise Blood and Francis Tarwarter of The Violent Bear It Away are mirror images. One dedicated to anti-religion, the other obses
Strange, beautiful, difficult book. The overwhelming religiosity or the book's message is hard to take, but it couldn't exist without it. I appreciated its darkness and subtle brutality, the bleakness of its existential outlook, but I just found myself agreeing with the angry atheist character. It's too O'Connor's credit that she lets each character speak as he needs to, rather than as she wants him to, and they all say what they should in keeping with who they are, rather than what would be mos ...more
Uma obra-prima, assim como a tradução. Uma história grave, repleta de personagens toscos mas que são, não obstante, a matéria-prima com que Deus tece a história do mundo através de seus chamados aos seres humanos. Estes se debatem contra o próprio destino, ansiando por uma liberdade simplória que concebem na mente e que não corresponde de maneira alguma à complexidade dos fins a que são chamados como almas inscritas na eternidade. Há conteúdo estético, filosófico e teológico para preencher mil p ...more
Skylar Burris
I was struck by this book, but I feel I have not yet understood it. As I read this, I kept thinking of O'Connor's remark in an interview that the south, if not exactly Christ-centered, is "Christ haunted." This is a disturbing, difficult book, and I was left wondering, "What does it all mean?" O’Connor reminds me of another Catholic author, Graham Greene, in her depiction of the Christian religious person as sinful, dark, violent, passionate, vibrantly alive, touched and consumed and overpowered ...more
Mar 13, 2009 Charlaralotte rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: heavy duty readers
I first read this in college for a course on Southern Women Writers. Due to the frenetic pace at which I had to ingest the books on the syllabus, I retained nothing about this story except for when the kid comes out of the field and gets into the truck.

Well, a hell of a lot more happens in the book than that. Pretty incredible portrait of three generations ruined by religious fundamentalism. Scary as hell. Each man deals with his "burden" in different ways, and each one in turn gain nothing. Hig
When I read Flannery O'Connor, one thing that always strikes me: how could she be a believing, practicing Catholic and write the stuff she does? It's so critical of religion and religious people/communities. Or is she just critiquing Protestants or people with some sort of generic or mixed-up Christian ideas? Is she saying that a Catholic outlook would take away all the difficulties?

Rayber clearly rejects his religious heritage, but it still haunts him. It still directs his life. Tarwater wants
Jul 21, 2014 Jamie added it
Shelves: the-dirty-south
“After four days of Tarwater, the schoolteacher’s enthusiasm had passed. He would admit no more than that. It had passed the first day and had been succeeded by determination, and while he knew that determination was a less powerful tool, he thought that in this case, it was the one best fitted for the job. It had taken him barely half a day to find out that the old man had made a wreck of the boy and that was called for was a monumental job of reconstruction. The first day enthusiasm had given ...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Not getting any, awkward, unattractive, romance-less, trapped in the rural South, Flannery O'Connor had nothing to turn to but her religion.

As expected she grappled with unbelief. This is the difficult fate of the religious: when he begins to think, and experience the seeming godlessness of the universe, he howls in the night calling for his deity who is either so powerful that he succeeds in frustrating man's attempts to know him or else remains so precisely because he does not really exists at
S Suzanne
I grew up in the Bible Belt, the "Christ-haunted" south...and I agree with some others here that FOC makes the religious zealots burn off the page, and the non-believers (or those fighting not to believe)are depicted as empty husks.

It is a strange perspective to be a passionate Catholic (as FOC was) in the Bible Belt.

Schizoid, Gothic, and occasionally beautiful are words that come to mind for the reactions of young tender minds brought up "in Jesus" in the South. (While I was surrounded by this
Steve Sckenda
Mason, a fundamentalist backwoods prophet for whom history begins with Eden and ends with the Day of the Lord, and his nephew Rayber are locked in mortal combat for the control of young Tarwater's education. Mason stands for faith in the supernatural, Rayber for disbelief. The title suggests that only the enthusiast ("the violent") can gain the kingdom ("bear it away"). As Tarwater marches toward the city at the close of the novel, he hears Mason's command again: "GO WARN THE CHILDREN OF GOD OF ...more
I loved reading this book. I was consistently amazed with O'Conner's ability to describe characters and to develop tension throughout the story. What I find very interesting is the fact that I'm completely uninterested in the subject matter of this book, yet I loved it. If someone told me to read a book about religion and false prophets and the like, I'd probably say I wasn't interested, but it's amazing how O'Conner sucks me into this world she's created. This book was a page-turner throughout, ...more
Sonia Argiolas
Questo libro, semplice e grigio nella sua veste tipografica, si è rivelato una grande e meravigliosa scoperta. Non conoscevo la Flannery O’ Connor e mi son quasi rammaricata di non averla scoperta prima, mi sono, infatti, chiesta cosa esattamente stessi facendo, ma non ho saputo darmi una risposta valida. Convulsamente, dopo la lettura, ho fatto una lunga ricerca per scoprire quanto più potevo su di lei, sulla sua poetica, sulla sua vita per apprendere che quest’ultima è stata molto breve (1925- ...more
A mio parere quello che la scrittrice pensa di aver scritto (e che viene confermato dalla prefazione) è distante da quello che realmente ha scritto.

(view spoiler)
M.G. Bianco
Well, first let me say I will not make the mistake of rating Flannery O'Connor four stars again. She is a five star worthy author, that much is clear. From both the quality of her writing and also the amount of kickback I received when I rated her book, Wise Blood, only four stars!

Flannery O'Connor is an extraordinary writer. She is one of the few people who can write a story in which all of the characters can be disliked and yet still tell a story worth reading. This book is about a young boy w
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  • The Second Coming
  • A Curtain of Green and Other Stories
  • Reflections in a Golden Eye
  • The Orchard Keeper
  • A Feast of Snakes
  • Provinces of Night
  • Pale Horse, Pale Rider
  • Go Down, Moses
  • State of Grace
  • Father and Son
  • Morte D'Urban
  • Flannery O'Connor and the Christ-Haunted South
Mary Flannery O’Connor was an American novelist, short-story writer and essayist. O’Connor’s writing often reflected her own Roman Catholic faith, and frequently examined questions of morality and ethics.

Her The Complete Stories received the 1972 National Book Award for Fiction. In a 2009 online poll conducted by the National Book Foundation, the collection was named the best work to have won the
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“You have to quit confusing a madness with a mission.” 60 likes
“He knew that he was the stuff of which fanatics and madmen are made and that he had turned his destiny as if with his bare will. He kept himself upright on a very narrow line between madness and emptiness and when the time came for him to lose his balance he intended to lurch toward emptiness and fall on the side of his choice.” 13 likes
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