The Violent Bear it Away
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The Violent Bear it Away

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  4,842 ratings  ·  355 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 (first published 1955)
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Aug 21, 2013 Paul rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: novels

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...more
Eddie Watkins
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...more
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.
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
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.
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...more
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
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...more
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...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
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...more
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
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...more
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
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...more
Prophesying, proselytizing, sermonizing, baptizing, fiery visions and impassioned revelations ... there's a whole lotta preachin' goin' on in these here backwoods. And it ain't the peaceful, brotherly, neighborly love kind either, no ma'am. It's the raving, shouting, tortured, guilt-driven, apocalypse-awaiting, all-or-nothing-for-salvation, sacrificing and martyring kind.

OK, why not? I can read about that. It's a valid theme – faith, spiritual perception, religious conviction and conversion, de...more

I just didn't like this very much. I have liked Flannery O'Connor's earlier novel Wise Blood and her story collection A Good Man Is Hard To Find, because of the way she digs deep into evil.

I don't mind dark tales. In fact, I seek them out. But the main character, Tarwater, orphan raised in the backcountry by a truly insane fundamentalist great-uncle, is so unrelievedly screwed up, so utterly devoid of humanity. The surrounding characters do not fare much better.

Some readers and reviewers found h...more
William Herschel
I was attracted long ago to this book by the title. It sounded dark and serious and brooding -- the "southern gothic" genre iced the cake. And Flannery O' Connor, gee, why haven't I read her? Isn't she supposed to be great? So I have kept the book on my radar since I was a teenager.

And lo and behold, I had enough to read, but I saw this in the new fiction section at my library. What was I getting myself into, did I really need a slow and laborious dark and soul-crushing tale?

I found however much...more
I do not know of another author like Flannery O'Connor (though of course, that's not saying too much: my breadth of fiction not impressive). Her writing does have an undercurrent of similarity - this novel being a lengthened, perhaps diluted, version of her short stories.

One of the marks of her writing (since I just read a book about it) may be what the Japanese admired in poetry:

kokoro : includes sincerity, conviction, or "heart"; also "craft" in a particular way. Admired for their "masculini...more
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...more
I think I am about to embark on a wild love affair with Flannery O'Connor, although I think she does not have a lot of other books...

This book is about religon and destruction. The main character, a 15 year old boy named Marion, has been raised in the 1930's in extremely rural Tennesee by a religous kook Uncle who keeps him out of school and raises him to believe he will be a prophet. Paralell to this story is that of a schoolteacher with a handicapped son from whom Marion was stolen as a baby....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...more
Sep 27, 2009 Daniel rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Daniel by: Emily
I was told "If you ever have time for a life changing novel...." Thank you Emily. O'Conner should get a posthumous nobel prize for literature just for this book, but more importantly, she should get a nobel prize for experimental physics. When I read her I feel like she is showing me, no pulling on me, with a force of nature.

I just reread this and it got even better. I love the line about Rayber that goes something like "He felt it as an undertow in his blood that was pulling him backwards towa...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)...more
Paul Clayton
I just finished The Violent Bear It Away. I have not read a single review of the book. I like to come up with my own interpretations of a book before I read others, not wanting to be drawn along or biased. After I’ve done that I enjoy looking at what others have had to say about a work. If you google “Catholic Writers” Flannery O’Connor’s name comes up. And this, “… her writing is deeply informed by the sacramental, and the Thomist notion that the created world is charged with God…” Thomism is d...more
Rowland Bismark

The Violent Bear It Away, published in New York in 1960, is Flannery O'Connor's darkly humorous Gothic novel about a Southern boy's spiritual awakening. It charts the spiritual and physical journey of fourteen-year-old Francis Marion Tarwater, raised by his great-uncle in the backwoods of Alabama to be a prophet. Tarwater travels to the city, where he struggles against the need to deny his spiritual inheritance and the call of God. O'Connor paints a macabre picture of So...more
On it's surface, this is a crossed up tale of the interactions between 3 generations of a loosely knit family. Generation 1 represented by a stark raving crazed, violent, and probably schizophrenic man intent on proselytizing his great nephew (but strangely not the world at large) by force. Generation 2 represented by a secular uncle, who earlier in life rejected the ways of the generation 1 uncle, but has lingering thoughts, notions, and ideas from the zealousness and care with which he was sho...more
I had never read anything by Flannery O'Connor and I learned a new term, "Southern Gothic". This was supposed to be our classic read and I felt that it also portrayed a dark side of religion.
Francis Tarwater is orphaned and raised by his great uncle Mason Tarwater, more commonly known as "the old man". The old man was certifiably crazy and had very strong fanatical religious beliefs claiming to be a prophet.
He kidnapped Francis's cousin Rayber and baptized him at a young age. He took custody of...more
Judy Vasseur
If you ever wondered why there’s no humor in the Bible or death, Flannery O'Connor found plenty. Masterful writing. Every sentence constructed like a precision instrument.

During his adolescent expectancy of bombastic biblical beckoning and reckoning, young Tarwater veers wildly between the mad extremes of seduction and dissent. He waits for a sign...maybe a burning bush, thunderous voice, or being swallowed and vomited by a whale.

Hilarious examination of religious symbolism. To the 14 year old t...more
After waiting almost a year I read this book in parts of two days. What a messy title! "It" stands for the "Kingdom of God" as it reads in a particular translation of Matthew 11:12. In other words, my guess at what the title may mean is that violence keeps away the Kingdom of God.

A lot of the characters in Ms O'Connor's book are violent...and for rather odd reasons. The elder, rural Tarwater is violent in reaction to his urban Teacher relative because he experienced the Teacher relative "studyin...more
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  • The Second Coming
  • A Curtain of Green and Other Stories
  • Of Love and Dust
  • Reflections in a Golden Eye
  • Provinces of Night
  • State of Grace
  • Pale Horse, Pale Rider
  • Outer Dark
  • Lie Down in Darkness
  • A Feast of Snakes
  • The Unvanquished
  • Dirty Work
  • The Selected Stories
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...more
More about Flannery O'Connor...
The Complete Stories A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories Wise Blood Everything That Rises Must Converge: Stories Collected Works: Wise Blood / A Good Man is Hard to Find / The Violent Bear it Away / Everything that Rises Must Converge / Essays and Letters (Library of America #39)

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“You have to quit confusing a madness with a mission.” 41 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.” 8 likes
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