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Flannery O'Connor and the Christ-Haunted South

4.19  ·  Rating Details ·  161 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
Flannery O'Connor was only the second twentieth-century writer (after William Faulkner) to have her work collected for the Library of America, the definitive edition of American authors. Fifty years after her death, O'Connor's fiction still retains its original power and pertinence. For those who know nothing of O'Connor and her work, this study by Ralph C. Wood offers one ...more
Paperback, 284 pages
Published May 2nd 2005 by Eerdmans (first published 2004)
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BeckyTalbot
Nov 24, 2009 BeckyTalbot rated it it was amazing
Delectable literary criticism. Wood not only gives insightful interpretations of O'Connor's key works, but also sets her life and work in historical, theological and regional context. Thus, one learns much about Modernism along the way.

While reading, I spent much of my time musing on whether O'Connor is an exemplary or extraordinary literary figure. Is she a good model for someone who wishes to pursue life as a Christian and artist? I've always thought of her as a person I'd like to emulate. Aft
...more
Mike
Mar 23, 2014 Mike rated it really liked it
There's a lot to ponder in this book. Most, but not all, of it I liked. Uses the writings of Flannery O'Connor as a jumping off point to discuss the role of religion both in O'Conner's fiction and in the American South of the mid to late 20th century. The phrase "the Christ Haunted South" comes from O'Conner's observation that the south wasn't Christ centered but Christ haunted. That's a good line (and probably accurate) and the book is full of observations like that. I read it on kindle and I t ...more
Jacob Aitken
Makes grace gritty. Ralph Wood demonstrated the Christian nature of the South in all its gritty glory. He doesn't pull any punches. For the most part, he deals honestly with racial issues (aside from a few politically correct howlers) and demonstrates how the North has abandoned Christianity at the social level, and the consequences thereto.

I really liked how he (and FOC) used narrative as a means of grace. Some sections of the book were powerful attacks at modern day Calvinist Gnosticism (and
...more
Melinda
This book was worthwhile to me, but perhaps not for the reason that the author intended. I'm not really sure even now the complete point of Ralph Wood's main thesis about Flannery O'Connor. He brings in many writers, theologians, and academics from her time and after. Many I am not familiar with, so comparisons and discussions regarding their influence or thoughts were lost on me. The author discusses southern politics, Catholic theology, and the issue of race within the South among other topics ...more
Terri
Feb 10, 2014 Terri rated it it was amazing
Shelves: flannery
I am a great fan of Flannery O'Connor and so is Ralph C. Wood; which is what makes his book about her so excellent.

In reading Wood's book about Flannery O'Connor it seems to me imperative to have read O'Connor's works first. He disects Ruby Turpin, Francis Marion Tarwater, Hulga Hopewell and her wooden leg. He understands O'Connor's need to make her characters who they are even though perhaps misunderstood by 'good Christian folk.'

When asked about the meaning of her stories, Flannery O'Connor sa
...more
Jim Hale
Jan 18, 2014 Jim Hale rated it really liked it
Shelves: lit-crit
Everyone seems to have an opinion about what Flannery was saying. Seems to me that Mr. Wood nails it better than most. Wood is the rarest of authors - a Southern Baptist, Catholic friendly scholar who has devoted much of his academic work to helping us better understand one of America's literary treasures. He succeeds brilliantly in this book. It's a series of essays so no need to go cover to cover.
Mark Herring
Feb 12, 2016 Mark Herring rated it liked it
Wood captures the essence of O'Connor's belief that sometimes characters have to written large for us to read. He gets her theology, the Christ-haunted South (evoking that wonderful image in Wiseblood of the ragged figure of Jesus moving from tree to tree in the back of Hazel Motes' mind. I often tell newcomers to the South that if you want to understand Southerners, you have to read O'Connor. Wood's book is nom substitute for her works, of course, but for those new to the South who read her and ...more
Rhonda
Jul 11, 2010 Rhonda rated it it was amazing
I was ill prepared for this collection of essays, appearing much like disparate thoughts pursued in great baffling detail. I learned quickly that the focus was not only literate and scholarly, but detailed and multi-faceted. Saying that I was impressed just with the writing is an understatement, and frankly, I was probably expecting someone to raise yet another mildly bizarre theory about O'Connor, God and the South. Each piece is not only a remarkable piece of scholarship in itself, but is well ...more
Carolyn
Jul 07, 2008 Carolyn rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Flannery O'Connor fans
Interesting for its summation of Southern thought about slavery. I'm sure I learned about the defense before, but it always seems so indefensible. Wood points out that the Southern line of thinking was a Marxist one, and one remarkably similar to the reasoning behind the Japanese invasion of China in WWII (the world operates on the basis of hierarchies, and it is the responsibility of those higher to guide/protect the lower).

However, I didn't agree with Wood's analysis of O'Connor's work, especi
...more
M.G. Bianco
Jul 24, 2013 M.G. Bianco rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Thoroughly enjoyable book. Professor Ralph Wood does a tremendous job of describing the world we live in--specifically the South--theologically, politically, and philosophically using the writings and letters of Flannery O'Connor as well as a number of her contemporaries, such as Andrew Lytle, and a variety of theologians, such as Karl Barth.

The book is a bit academic; you probably aren't going to read this at the poolside with kids jumping and running and swimming all around you--especially if
...more
Jamie Howison
Jul 08, 2016 Jamie Howison rated it really liked it
If you appreciate the fiction of Flannery O'Connor, this a must read. An insightful yet highly personal reading of the writing of an astonishing (and at times astonishingly troubling...) Catholic writer from the American South, I found myself in steady dialogue with the author. And if you don't know O'Connor's work, dig up her short story "Revelation"!
Bradford
Jan 12, 2016 Bradford rated it it was amazing
One of the best books on FO. A joy to read.
Dean P.
Apr 14, 2014 Dean P. rated it really liked it
Mmm. This is fantastic. Wood paints a narrative worthy of O'Connor herself. Read her, then read Wood, then read her again and again.
Andy
Nov 11, 2014 Andy rated it really liked it
Wood's book is an excellent resource for understanding Flannery O'Connor and her work, bringing everything into a focus of how O'Connor's faith and worldview permeate her work. At times Wood gets a bit too academic (for me, anyway) and dwells on some aspects of theological thought longer than necessary, but on the whole, this is a fascinating look at one of the South's most important writers and what drove her.
Sarah Braud
Jan 01, 2014 Sarah Braud rated it really liked it
Dense but filled with great insight. Points you to many of Flannery's techniques, so also is a great writing resource.
Bryan
Jan 20, 2015 Bryan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A vastly interesting book that is equally about the South and Flannery O'Connor. It seems to be a must have if you really want to understand O'Connor, and for me the insights about the South were just an added bonus.
Peter
Dec 14, 2014 Peter rated it really liked it
The parts about O'Connor herself and her writing are worthy of five stars, but I am deducting a star because the author spends rather too many pages throughout the book discussing Karl Barth and his theology.
Ryan Womack
Aug 10, 2011 Ryan Womack rated it it was amazing
Wood's book is one of the best studies of an author's life and work, but moreover that author's expression of a region and culture--the South and it's religious convictions or lack thereof. A worthy read.
Allie
Jul 03, 2007 Allie rated it really liked it
As a member of the traditional church who is used to criticisms of evangelical folly, I was fascinated by a biography of this Roman Catholic woman in the very (very) Baptist South.
Jude Morrissey
May 02, 2013 Jude Morrissey rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Loved this book. I think Ralph Wood is quickly becoming my favorite theology and literature author.
Garrett Cash
It's dense stuff, but extremely rewarding and insightful.
Kaye Hinckley
Nov 07, 2015 Kaye Hinckley rated it really liked it
Review coming.
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Ralph C. Wood has served as University Professor of Theology and Literature at Baylor since 1998. He previously served for 26 years on the faculty of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he became the John Allen Easley Professor of Religion in 1990. He has also taught at Samford University in Birmingham, at Regent College in Vancouver, and at Providence College in Rhode I ...more
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“[I]f you live today you breathe in nihilism. In or out of the Church it's the gas you breathe. If I hadn't had the Church to fight it with or to tell me the necessity of fighting it, I would be the stinkingest logical positivist you ever saw right now” 1 likes
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