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Flannery O'Connor : Collected Works : Wise Blood / A Good Man Is Hard to Find / The Violent Bear It Away / Everything that Rises Must Converge / Essays & Letters (Library of America) Hardcover – September 1, 1988

4.6 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Flannery O’Connor was born in Savannah, Georgia, on March 25, 1925, and was raised as a devout Roman Catholic in Milledgeville, Georgia. Upon graduation from the Graduate Program of the Women’s College of Georgia, O’Connor attended the writing program at the State University of Iowa, receiving her MFA in 1947. Among the strongest influences on O’Connor’s work were the writings of William Faulkner and Nathanael West, from whom she derived her conception of the grotesque in literature. Following the publication of numerous short stories in literary journals, O’Connor’s first novel, Wise Blood, was published in 1952. Suffering from a hereditary rheumatic ailment, she spent the next twelve years writing at the family farm in Milledgeville under the care of her mother, Regina, and the strictest medical super vision. A Good Man is Hard to Find, a collection of short stories, was published in 1955, and another novel, The Violent Bear It Away, appeared in 1960. Though seriously ill, O’Connor made an extensive series of lecture tours, received an honorary degree from Smith College in 1963, and that same year, won first prize in the annual O’Henry short story awards (as she had previously done in 1956). After her death on August 3, 1964, another collection of short stories, Everything That Rises Must Converge, was published (1965), as well as a volume of unpublished lectures and essays and various critical articles, Mystery and Manners (1969).
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Product Details

  • Series: Library of America (Book 39)
  • Hardcover: 1300 pages
  • Publisher: Library of America; 1st edition (September 1, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0940450372
  • ISBN-13: 978-0940450370
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.5 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,588 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on February 19, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is perhaps the most beautiful edition of the collected works of Flannery O'Connor. And it contains not only her incomparable stories--with those unforgettable characters!--but her magnificent letters. Her stories can both shock and shine. Her letters have made me both laugh and cry. Her stories never grow old--I've read them over many years now and am always finding something new and fresh and am always in awe of her consummate artistry. And her letter reveal, at least in part, the secret of her art and the power of her stories: they reveal a noble soul. Humble, honest, caring, suffering, and always, a valiant woman of faith. Her lupus stimied her activity; but it deepened her spirit and heart. I am sure those peacocks she loved so much missed her. And they're not fortunate enough, like us, to be able to read her relatively slim, but always enriching, literary legacy. GET THIS BOOK!
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Format: Hardcover
The complaints about the poor organization of the collection can be overcome by simply reading it from front to back. Surely it is that good.

My foray into the works of Flannery O'Connor, a southern, gothic author of darkly humorous novels and short stories came via a recommendation in Harold Bloom's, "What to Read and Why." As it turned ot, I had read one of her short stories, "A Good Man is Hard to Find," in a collection somewhere and had been surprised and shocked, by the turn of events and ending of the story, so much so, that I remembered it instantly, even though it has to have been thirty years since I read it. I enjoyed everything, short stories, novellas, and even her letters. She writes about southern Christ-haunted people, most backward, all damned, but many redeemed. Bloom says that according to her, we are all damned but one should put that aside and simply enjoy her beautiful, grotesque, and wonderful comedic stories. Her protagonist is often a woman, forced to take on a role and duties she didn't sign up for but resignedly and with no illusions playing and discharging both out of a sense of morality or necessity; those women are usually the most superior beings in her stories.

Many of her insights stick with me months afterwards. For example, O'Connor says in one of her letters, "...Hazel's integrity lies in his not being able to do so. Does one's integrity ever lie in what he is not able to do? I think that usually it does, for free will does not mean one will, but many wills conflicting in one man. Freedom cannot be conceived simply. It is a mystery and one which a novel, even a comic novel, can only be asked to deepen." That brought tears to my eyes -- perhaps because it is so beautifully put.
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Format: Hardcover
Flannery O'Connor was the best short-story writer of the 20th century. This collection contains all of her wonderful short stories, her sadly underappreciated novel WISE BLOOD, and one of the most entertaining and enlightening selections from an author's letters I've ever come across.
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Format: Hardcover
The stories themselves easily get a five. O'Connor was a genius, combining her Catholicism, her Southern-ness, and the grotesque in stories that explore the nature of revelation, grace (or the lack thereof), and redemption. The stories have characters who are often "freaks"-physically (legless, armless, fat, pock-marked) and psychologically. Frequently, the stories are violent, shockingly so; and if not violent, then they still surprise or shock us in some way. My jaw has hit the floor reading each story. But they are meant to startle us into our own revelation. It requires patience and careful reading and re-reading to get to the heart of O'Connor's writing, but it's well worth the effort.
The collection itself gets, at best, a two. It is very poorly organized, as others have mentioned. Rather than a table of contents listing every story, the main table of contents lists only "major" works-that is, the novels (Wise Blood and The Violent Bear It Away) and the collections (A Good Man Is Hard To Find and Everything That Rises Must Converge). To find a particular story, one must either know what collection it appears in or must check separate tables of contents within the book. I'm probably nitpicking, but it can be frustrating, especially for someone new to O'Connor. The included essays are O'Connors most well-known and provide important and interesting insights into her writing and themes. Many of the letters are intriguing, but many others consist of a few lines and are not extremely useful (there's a two-line letter to Walker Percy, congratulating him on an award, which tells us virtually nothing at all; include it in a book of O'Connor's letters but not in a sampling of her best and most important). Beyond that, the letters are very poorly indexed.
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Format: Hardcover
Move over Hemingway, Steinbeck, Fitzgerald, Stein, Wolfe and, yes, even William Faulkner. Flannery O'connor is the greatest American literary mind that the 20th Century ever produced. Upon completing this magisterial collection of her work, superbly edited and finely bound by the American Library, the reader will no doubt fall under the spell of Flannery O'Connor just as I did when I first read "Parker's back" upon a whim after browsing listlessly through a bookstore. It took me about a 1/2 hour with a cup of coffee by my side to leaf through the story, and from that time forward I was forever captivated by everything to do with Flannery. The only other reading experience I've had that can even come close to Flannery's bludgeoning me between the eyes with her descriptive pen-hammer was when I first read "Bartleby the Scrivener" by Herman Melville. And when your a writer who's style and vision lends itself to the bizarre and the grotesque, while all the while maintaining a thoroughly moral underpinning to your work, there is no better company to be in than this greatest of 19th century American writers. Read this woman! You will not go away empty-minded. After being thoroughly entertained, you will only go away much wiser and completely satisfied. I guarantee it.
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