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Wise Blood

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  26,001 ratings  ·  2,210 reviews
Wise Blood, Flannery O’Connor’s astonishing and haunting first novel, is a classic of twentieth-century literature. It is a story of Hazel Motes, a twenty-two-year-old caught in an unending struggle against his innate, desperate faith. He falls under the spell of a "blind" street preacher named Asa Hawks and his degenerate fifteen-year-old daughter, Lily Sabbath. In an iro ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 6th 2007 by Farrar Straus & Giroux (first published 1952)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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Jeffrey Keeten
May 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jeffrey by: Southern Literary Trail
Shelves: gothic, southern

After reading just a few pages of this book I kept thinking to myself Hazel Motes is doomed.


First of all he is the lead character in a Flannery O'Connor novel. The only thing that could be worst is if he were the lead character in a Jim Thompson novel. The poor bastard hasn't got a chance. For one thing he's got the wrong look to him. "His black hat sat on his head with a careful, placed expression on his face had a fragile look as if it might have been broken and stuck together again,
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Oct 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: usa, literature
Hey, kids! It's time for a game of Choose Your Own Adventure: Southern Gothic Literary Analysis Edition. Please select from the following options:

1. You are a Christian bordering on Calvinist who wants metaphorical reassurance that you are a part of the spiritual elect, and you want a real martyr of a sinner to guide you through the steps to grace: Hazel Motes returns from the war to find that he has no one, nothing, and nowhere to turn. In defiance, he rejects the lord (human nature, a necessar
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Oh Jesus! I feel compelled to cry out, thus involuntarily showing my cultural heritage that comes out in everyday language despite growing up and living among atheists without any relation to the creation myths of Christianity.

This book is horrible, and very, very well written. Describing the ugly reality of a young man, Hazel Motes, who is deeply tainted by the moral preaching of a church he tries to shake off, it offers a panorama of confused, scared, aggressive people. They all try to make t
Michael Finocchiaro
Wise Blood is Flannery O'Connor's first book and it is a beautiful, brutal work of art. We are introduced to Hazel Motes on a train with his army-issued duffel bag being annoying by the woman next to him on the train. He is completely dislocated, as we see in the first sentence:
"Hazel Motes sat at a forward angle on the green plush train seat, looking one minute at the window as if he might want to jump out of it, and the next down the aisle at the end of the car."
He is on the border between thi
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american
Hapless Irony

Flannery O'Connor was a woman who knew her world. Not just the gentile facade of a world but the nits and grits and dirt under the finger nails world of poor black folk and edgy white trash, of the huckster and the street beggar, the good ole boy and the smug gossip, the person of faith and the person of lost faith, the arch prostitute and her bumbling client. They are misfits, defectives, near-psychotics, needy obsessives, fanatics.

O'Connor knew how these people act in this world,
May 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Reading Road Trip 2020

Current location: Tennessee

“I don't have to run from anything because I don't believe in anything.”

I did a lot of babysitting, in the mid-80s. I was a young teen, not dating yet, and I was enamored with children. Families who wanted me as their sitter would frequently try and secure me for that coveted Saturday night date night by offering all types of perks. The family that finally earned my loyalty for that regular Saturday night commitment for several years was the one t
Vit Babenco
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ever since The Ship of Fools by Sebastian Brant and Praise of Folly by Erasmus the human foolishness keeps disturbing our minds.
“The only way to the truth is through blasphemy, but do you care?”

With her everlasting masterpiece Wise Blood Flannery O'Connor managed to add to this fertile theme truckloads of new stuff.
Wise Blood is a detailed story of fools’ misadventures and misfortunes.
He had left it when he was eighteen years old because the army had called him. He had thought a
Ahmad Sharabiani
522. Wise Blood, Flannery O’Connor

Wise Blood is the first novel by American author Flannery O'Connor, published in 1952.

Recently discharged from service in World War II and surviving on a government pension for unspecified battle wounds, Hazel Motes returns to his family home in Tennessee to find it abandoned. Leaving behind a note claiming a chifforobe as his private property, Motes boards a train for Taulkinham.

The grandson of a traveling preacher, Motes grew up struggling with doubts regard
Sep 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Certainly the "Blue Velvet" in the literary realm, "Wise Blood" has an OVERWHELMING SIMPLICITY that seems truly out of this world. O'Connor expertly places all these annoying wind-up toys near each other--see them bump and grind and sometimes line up in a maniacal precision that repeats and repeats-- and what we get is a very complex nightmare, almost hitting the true nerve of (my personal champion of all literary categories) Southern Goth. It is true brethren to the Faulkner's masterpiece, "As ...more
Dan Schwent
May 06, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016-books, 2016
Fresh from a stint in the army, Hazel Motes starts a religion out of spite and gets entangled with a preacher named Asa Hawks and his teenage daughter, Sabbath.

I recently read the exquisite The Summer that Melted Everything and kept thinking of Flannery O'Connor. I already had this on my Kindle so I gave it a shot.

Wise Blood is the tale of Hazel Motes and his crisis of faith. Something happened during the war that shattered Hazel Motes' childhood dream of being a preacher and now he's taking it
Mark André
Apr 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels-i
A most challenging work. Bold, weird, disturbing and potential injurious. Not for everyone. But if you dare, a compelling masterpiece.
Apr 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: public-library
Haze Motes.  Visionary or false prophet?  Look closer, he may simply be a tortured soul who has lost his faith.  He believes he is beyond redemption, and wouldn't care to have it anyway.     

Enoch Emery, he of the wise blood.  Taking chances on the meaning of things.  Mayhap he is the visionary, more probably he is just desperate for a friend.    

Having grown up hearing the country dialect used here, I will say it was pitch perfect.  Published in 1952, this novel is almost as old as I am.  Sadly
Felice Laverne
"…that church where the blind don’t see and the lame don’t walk and what’s dead stays that way. Ask me about that church and I’ll tell you it’s the church that the blood of Jesus don’t foul with redemption...there was no Fall because there was nothing to fall from and no Redemption because there was no Fall and no Judgment because there wasn’t the first two. Nothing matters but that Jesus was a liar…”

Wise Blood is the story of Hazel Motes, a recently discharged twenty-something war vet who retur
Paul Bryant
Oct 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
I think it was Jerry Lee Lewis who says you can be hot or you can be cold but if you are lukewarm the Lord God Jehovah will spew you from his mouth. If that is so Hazel Motes will be okay, he will be unspewed because there is pretty much no moment in Wise Blood when he is not white hot with rage and spouting fiery blasphemy

As for the Jesus who was reported to have been born at Bethlehem and crucified on Calvary for man’s sins, Haze said, He was too foul a notion for a sane person to carry in hi
May 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
"People who haven't grown up in the South, in the Bible Belt particularly, have little understanding of how much a part of the fabric of Southern life religion is." Barry Moser

This novel, I don't mind saying, spooked me a bit. I couldn't finish it for the longest time. I'm sure there are deeper meanings that I can't get to due to the Southern-surreal grotesquery.

I attribute my reaction to either growing up in the South or seeing Hollywood's grotesque depictions of Southerners in general. In any
mark monday
Jun 15, 2007 rated it really liked it
UPDATED REVIEW... of the film!

John Huston's 1979 adaptation of O'Connor's cult novel was one of my favorite films growing up, which is probably more evidence of why I should not be wandering around in public. I just re-watched it this afternoon and am happy to report that the magic is mainly still there.

so demented Hazel Motes returns from the army, still haunted by memories of his demented preacher father. he moves to Taulkinham, where a demented young man named Enoch begins following him aroun
Feb 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: heathens
Recommended to Jenn(ifer) by: The Man Himself
I have to say, there’s nothing more attractive than a man in a sharp suit.

Hello lovely:


However, Hazel Motes, I think you should fire your tailor. (Maybe you should take some of that money you keep throwing in the trash and buy a new suit. Just sayin’).


All joking aside, I’d like to take a moment to thank Ms. O’Connor for restoring my faith in female authors. Such a shame she died so young; one can only wonder what stories she left untold.

Wise Blood tells the tale of young Hazel Motes, who returns
May 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 20-ce, us
Hazel Motes gets out of the army and arbitrarily goes to a generic southern city to play out his damage. He has lost his father and mother and grandfather. While traveling on a sleeper to the city he has a dream in which each in turn manage to spring out of their coffins, miraculously alive. Then he wakes up. He is in a fury at Jesus, presumably for failing him, though his specific anger on the matter is never addressed. A rage burns within him which he cannot satisfy, no matter what he does. Ev ...more
Eddie Watkins
Jun 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american-fiction
I suppose Flannery O'Connor must be considered a Christian writer, as she was a Catholic and Christian themes permeate her books, but her imagination was on fire and she knew how to get those flames into her words and that's really all that matters.

Wise Blood is like an upside-down inside-out book about salvation, where professed atheism is faith, blindness is seeing, and rottenness is goodness, and it's all spiced up with tersely vivid bizarre characterizations and situations in an enveloping
Jul 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
I enjoyed this book slightly more than The Violent Bear It Away but not by much. The book did hold my interest much more them TVBIA and I was really interested in seeing where and how the story would end. In the long run though I think Flannery O'Connor had some really whacked stories in her head and this was just another one. ...more
Jun 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Lookeere, thisere story iz bout some right weirdazz folks, I declare. Thing of it is, I don't rightly know whether Ms. O'Connor weren't off her nut when she wrote hit down. I don't see how yon Enoch's gadabouts had anything ter do with anything, in the grand scheme er things. He was a right comical bastard, I declare that. He wuz also few bricks shy of a load, if any you friends been in the contracting or house-building bidness, you might catch my drift. Lookeere, too: that feller that come long ...more
Mark Porton
May 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
Wise Blood The first book written by Flannery O’Connor is a book I decided to read without knowing anything about it. I have found it incredibly difficult to write any sort of review about this book and I have deliberately avoided reading the reviews of others so as not to be influenced. So here goes, for the umpteenth time…..

I wondered what this story was all about from the first page, all I knew was the characters all seemed to be unpleasant types and the image in my mind was all in Black and
Mar 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A story of dark and strange staggering beauty.

Joy and pain, suffering and redemption.
It's has dark cynical humour with characters of outrageous quality.
There is plenty of work behind the structure of the story.
She has included many issues around her during her time and locality, they are of beauty, child neglect and abuse, racism and police brutality.
Watch out for these things as you read this along as you might not pick up what she trying to convey.
His large hat and clothing seem to give everyo
Jun 21, 2018 rated it did not like it
Just couldn't do this. I sometimes find it difficult to overcome things that are obviously repulsive but part of the time in which the book is written, but I can do that when there is something there that overreaches that. This book showed no promise that that was true. Again, drunkenness and prostitution are subjects I can countenance if they contribute to some greater meaning in the story...didn't see it.

I am bailing, after having several trusted friends tell me there wasn't going to be any im
Mar 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*Disclaimer: I was raised Catholic, so I’m likely predisposed to liking this book.

*Disclaimer 2: I watched the shit out of the Poltergeist movies as a kid, so I'm likely predisposed to liking this book as I have a special place in my black heart for Evil Southern Preachers, Wide-Brimmed Hat Division.

Wise Blood is so fantastically odd, so tit-stuffed with awful human beings, that it’s astounding that it isn’t loved by more members of the Satanic Underground that I hang out and play Yahtzee with.
Molly Moran
Oct 24, 2007 rated it did not like it
Huh. I don't know what to say about this book at all. I tried reading some of the reviews to see if they helped clarify anything for me, but nobody said much of anything. Lots of people gave it 4 or 5 stars but then just said that it was weird and anti-religion. That doesn't inherently make something good. I'm still unsure what the point of this book was: what's the critique, what's driving it, what, if anything, am I to take away from it?

I've not read O'Connor before, and I don't think I'll be
Nov 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
What can I say, this woman...
Flannery keeps on amazing me, this story is batshit insane to say the least.
I can see a young David Lynch devour this one :), it boasts all the surreal elements his films are so famous about.
I really really loved it, it certainly deserves a place among my favorite books, and I definitely have to give that John Huston movie a rewatch.
Flannery is so gory and kafkaesque I really cannot understand she is so widely accepted by catholic America ?! Her stories are chock-ful
Jan 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Holy crap and profit! I think Flannery O'Connor could go 10 rounds with Cormac McCarthy and still end with a draw. Wise Blood is an amazing look at sin, heresy, apostasy and redemption(?). No. Redemption might just be too hopeful for this O'Connor. Wise Blood is an amazing reworking of several of her shorter stories, but where this novel might have ended up as some Frankensteinian monster in lesser hands, Wise Blood pulls it off. It is a monster for sure, but you never should confuse a grotesque ...more
Wise Blood: Flannery O'Connor's tale of the rejection of grace

"God's free initiative demands man's free response"--Catechism of the Catholic Church 2002

If Hazel Motes ever read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, he read no more of it than the Bible he carried like a rock in the bottom of his duffel bag. Flannery O'Connor never tells us what turned Hazel into such a stubborn son of a buck. It didn't appear he would turn out that way. The grandson of a Presbyterian minister, Hazel had determine
I do not appreciate Wise Blood nearly as much as many of my reading friends so. Detailing why seems likely only to draw fire in my review thread, but DM me if you want to discuss.

Going forward, I'll stick to O'Connor's short stories, which are guaranteed to be sublime.
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Flannery O'Connor was born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1925. When she died at the age of thirty-nine, America lost one of its most gifted writers at the height of her powers. O’Connor wrote two novels, Wise Blood (1952) and The Violent Bear It Away (1960), and two story collections, A Good Man Is Hard to Find (1955) and Everything That Rises Must Converge (1964). Her Complete Stories, published posth ...more

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