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Flannery O'Connor's Dark Comedies: The Limits of Inference (Southern Literary Studies) 1st Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0807142455
ISBN-10: 080714245X
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

"Shloss helps us to understand O'Connor's greatest talents: mastery of language, wry humor, and ultimate concern about the human condition." -- Choice

"Brilliantly argued, solidly documented.... [this book] reaffirms the value of O'Connor's art and freshly asserts O'Connor's preeminence as a secular moralist.... Shloss makes O'Connor available to new readers and to old, especially those estranged by the inherent paradoxes of O'Connor's achievement." -- Virginia Quarterly Review

"A scholarly, sophisticated work of literary criticism which explores the anagogical dimensions of O'Connor's art." -- Canadian Review of American Studies

In Flannery O'Connor's Dark Comedies, Carol Shloss moves away from biographical, thematic, and theological approaches to O'Connor and instead focuses on her successes and failures as a rhetorician.

This valuable study of O'Connor's style employs reader-response theory to dissect the author's use of hyperbole, distortion, allusion, analogy, the dramatization of extreme religious experience, the manipulation of judgment through narrative voice, and direct address to the reader.

Shloss aims to return Flannery O'Connor to her readers on fathomable terms, to offer a rhetorical, rather than theological, perspective from which to understand the country preachers, square-jawed farm wives, wise rubes, foolish intellectuals, huckster Bible salesmen, killers, and other "good country people" who populate O'Connor's fiction.

About the Author

Carol Shloss is a consulting professor in English at Stanford University.


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Product Details

  • Series: Southern Literary Studies
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: LSU Press; 1 edition (January 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080714245X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807142455
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,757,622 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By RNS VINE VOICE on August 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Shloss addresses Flannery O'Connor's use of rhetorical devices to infer "secondary levels of implication" in her stories.

Argues that, because of the "pointed relationship between the conclusions of inference and the mental resources of the perceiver," O'Connor carefully considered her reader's ability to understand and infer from her text. Cites evidence that O'Connor "addressed herself precisely to those who were untutored in religious belief," and argues that "it is in terms of those readers" that critics ought to "evaluate the success of her rhetoric."

Contends that because O'Connor frequently violated "the commitment to represent the concrete world with fidelity," and because she "did not think that reality was Reality," using the term "realism" to describe her fiction is inaccurate. Offers as evidence, her own comments, which point out how, for O'Connor, reality was "not the tangible world encountered without delusion, but a dimension of perception ... transcending the substantial field of sense impressions."

Uses these previous discussions as background for examining her use of symbols, Christian myth, similes, metaphor, and O'Connor's "romantic tendency to analogize" in order to "dehumanize and distance the human life rendered" in her fiction.

Follows with explications of "Greenleaf" and "The Displaced Person," to illustrate how O'Connor's "analogies begin with the concrete world as theme," and -- using the process of inference - then, lead the reader "not directly to the spirit, but to an expanded sense of the physical environment.
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