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Revising Flannery O'Connor

Southern Literary Culture and the Problem of Female Authorship
Katherine Hemple Prown

BUY Cloth · 201 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813920122 · $43.50 · Mar 2001

In her short life, the prolific Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964) authored two novels, thirty-two stories, and numerous essays and articles. Although her importance as a twentieth-century southern writer is unquestionable, mainstream feminist criticism has generally neglected O'Connor's work.

In Revising Flannery O'Connor, Katherine Hemple Prown addresses the conflicts O'Connor experienced as a "southern lady" and professional author. Placing gender at the center of her analytical framework, Prown considers the reasons for feminist critical neglect of the writer and traces the cultural origins of the complicated aesthetic that informs O'Connor's fiction, both published and unpublished.

O'Connor's relationship with her mentor Caroline Gordon, and its eventual disintegration, played a significant role in her development. As Prown shows, it underlines the shift from the relatively "feminine" authorial voice of O'Connor's earliest drafts toward the decidedly masculinized tone of her final, published works. Incorporating an insightful examination of the author in relation to the Fugitive/Agrarian and New Critical movements, Prown provides an original exploration of O'Connor's changing gender perspectives.


Revising Flannery O'Connor will extend current scholarship on both an important American writer and twentieth-century American literary history. Placing Flannery O'Connor in the literary world of her moment, this study richly amplifies our understanding of O'Connor's development as an artist, particularly as a female and southern artist, and it sharpens our awareness of what other writers of her generation also 'received' as a literary tradition during the middle decades of the century. Katherine Hemple Prown openly invites new considerations by feminist, historicist, and cultural studies critics, and she does so with compelling insights and evidence that should spur fresh energies and directions in O'Connor criticism.

Peggy Whitman Prenshaw, Louisiana State University

About the Author(s): 

Katherine Hemple Prown is an independent scholar living in Fox Point, Wisconsin.

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