The Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor Download (read online) free eBook .pdf.epub.kindle

The Complete Stories

Reprinted from Flannery O’Connor: Collected Works (The Library of America, 1988), pages 753–62. Originally published in the April 1948 issue of Sewanee Review. Copyright © 1948 by Flannery O’Connor; renewed 1976 by Regina Cline O’Connor; All rights reserved. Permission granted by Mary Flannery O’Connor Charitable Trust.


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    Richard

    The stories in this collection were written by an unassuming yet serious Catholic woman from Georgia who, after devoting her short life to writing, died of lupus in 1964. Besides the stories, she had written two novels and started a third; one can only speculate what other masterpieces she would have written had she lived longer.

    The stories are hard-bitten, bizarre and haunting. Two that I read years ago in college have stuck with me and are just as jarring today as they were then. O’Connor’s th

    The stories are hard-bitten, bizarre and haunting. Two that I read years ago in college have stuck with me and are just as jarring today as they were then. O’Connor’s theme is the warpedness that resides deep in the human heart. Her protagonists are usually people who think quite highly of themselves. They are often nice people who are nice to everyone (within reasonable limits, of course) and think that the world would be a nicer place to live if only everyone were as nice as they are (“Good Country People”, “Everything that Rises Must Converge”). There are the people who dream nostalgically of a segregated society where inferiors knew their rank, respected their betters and did not try to move outside of their foreordained place in the pecking order (“The Geranium”, “Judgment Day”). Then there are the educated or artistic types who feel confined or bored by the life they lead, can’t wait to escape, and sneer at all the inferior mortals around them (“Good Country People”, “The Enduring Chill”). And of course, there are those horrifying individuals who are evil, have surrendered themselves to it, and commit atrocities just because they can (“A Good Man is Hard to Find”, “The Lame Shall Enter First”).

    O’Connor’s wrath and sarcasm are reserved most of all for those people who are so immured in themselves that they are unaware of their own blindness. Often there is a cataclysmic moment of epiphany when they are confronted at last with their own shortcomings.

    O’Connor lets these people show us their true colours either by enabling us to eavesdrop on their thoughts or by allowing us to listen to their conversations; she is a master of psychology and of dialogue. In her descriptions of the background scenery, nature often serves to highlight the desire of certain characters to escape their circumstances or the feeling of being trapped in an environment from which they cannot disentangle themselves without great effort.

    These stories are dark, bitter, angry and often tragic. But they are a brilliant barometer of the human heart and the depravity of which it is capable when left untouched by divine grace.
    …more

    Robin

    Jul 23, 2017

    rated it
    it was amazing

    I feel like I’ve just been to school. (That’s a good thing.) I read each of these 31 stories – a compilation of both A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories and Everything That Rises Must Converge: Stories, as well as 12 other stories, 6 of which made up her master’s thesis at the University of Iowa – slowly, only a few a day. I took notes as I was going and read as much analysis as I could on each story. What an experience, to immerse myself in this author’s life work.

    It’s a dark place to

    It’s a dark place to be, though I’ve always liked dark. Flannery O’Connor’s literary world is beyond bleak, to the point where if one of her characters smiles, you notice with a breath of relief, ahhhh, a tiny respite from the hard lives and harder hearts on display here. The sky and the sun and of course peacocks get all sorts of glorious description in these stories. But the PEOPLE… the people are hopeless and selfish, grappling for control of their meagre lives on a slippery surface that affords no purchase.

    Flannery O’Connor’s name goes hand in hand with “Southern gothic”, though she used “Christian realism” to describe the toughness of her stories. In my opinion, both apply to her work. Most of her stories take place in bedraggled farms in the American South, with tough characters who often possess ironic names (Mrs. Cope can’t cope, Sheppard can’t lead anyone, Shiftlet is definitely shifty, Crater is a void, Pointer is a cruel phallus, etc). The lessons are told using allegory dotted with symbolism. After you’ve read a few of her stories, you will notice a pattern. Despite the dank darkness of the lives she adorns her characters with, there is always an opportunity for grace, the chance to choose right. If they do not choose correctly, woe betide them, for all sorts of terrible punishments are ahead, in the form of death and loss and isolation.

    Even though I recognised this pattern like a beacon, I couldn’t help but sympathise and identify with the characters who were on their road to ruin. I mean, who wouldn’t be annoyed if someone else’s bull was loose in your farm, wrecking everything? That, I believe, is where much of O’Connor’s power lies. The ‘villains’ in her stories are us, everyday people, who are snared in our humanity, our time, our weaknesses. It is we who struggle every day at achieving grace. And that is what pierces the heart of anyone who reads these stories.

    She addresses racism many, many times over – which sadly, still remains a timely issue. And she has a hard eye for ‘intellectuals’ – none of them know nearly as much as they think they know.

    The collection was a little uneven for me. The Train, The Peeler and any others featuring Hazel and Enoch did not interest me much. That probably means I should stay clear of Wise Blood, because these stories eventually became part of this novel. Also You Can’t Be Any Poorer than Dead which eventually became part of The Violent Bear It Away, and Why Do the Heathen Rage? which was meant to be part of a future novel – neither worked for me as short stories.

    However, there is so much gold here, it is easy to let go of what doesn’t impress and stay with the sparkling jewels such as:

    The Geranium – an old Southern man’s inability to adjust to life in NYC (later re-written as Judgment Day, her last story)

    The Barber – a fascinating image of “casting pearls to swine”, showing the insecure need to change people’s minds to match one’s own, and the ineffectuality of intellectual arguments

    A Good Man is Hard to Find – her most famous story, when a family trip is savaged while making a stop to visit an old plantation property. Punishment for glorifying an imperfect past is doled out, for thinking in terms of “them” and “us”. Begs the question, “what makes a person good”?

    A Circle in the Fire – a woman who runs a farm is visited by some boys, who torment her, instil fear and menace, and demonstrate that she is NOT in charge

    The Displaced Person – a story of tremendous power about a woman who takes in a Polish DP to work on her farm. His efficiency does not sit well with the rest of the farm, and what ensues in a sick, slow build up, made me gasp.

    Greenleaf – another woman on a farm (pretty much everyone in O’Connor’s stories are widows or widowers, and there’s almost always a red-headed person in each story) has to deal with an errant bull on her property, with deathly consequences

    Everything that Rises Must Converge – brilliant tale of moral ambiguity, taking place on an integrated bus ride

    Her disturbing, damning stories will linger in my mind. These stories continue to exert their power, a pointing finger, a morally all-seeing eye that cuts and exposes without mercy. Wow.
    …more

    Aubrey

    “Listen here,” he hissed, “I don’t care if he’s good or not. He ain’t right!

    A Stroke of Good Fortune. The Life You Save May Be Your Own. The River. The Displaced Person. A View of the Woods. The Lame Shall Enter First. Two of these are contained within Everything That Rises Must Converge. A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories has the other four. Neither one would have done as much good in my estimation as the works in toto. Key word my.

    Flannery O’Connor was an author whose name seeped i

    “Listen here,” he hissed, “I don’t care if he’s good or not. He ain’t right!

    A Stroke of Good Fortune. The Life You Save May Be Your Own. The River. The Displaced Person. A View of the Woods. The Lame Shall Enter First. Two of these are contained within Everything That Rises Must Converge. A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories has the other four. Neither one would have done as much good in my estimation as the works in toto. Key word my.

    Flannery O’Connor was an author whose name seeped into my bones until there was nothing left but to read her. One class assigned me the solo ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find’ and left me baffled. A television show favored for its artistic atrocity and psychological vivisection featured the former and more as a psychology professor, turned FBI consultant, read to a comatose girl, potential serial killer. Godwin’s Law turned O’Connor’s Law whenever short stories were the question, a probability instantaneously one if favorites were asked for. The final blow was the every so often descriptor of “Catholic zealot”, a religion whose childhood indoctrination may have fed my enthusiasm for theology but did nothing faith-wise.

    “You won’t be the same again,” the preacher said. “You’ll count.”

    I acquired this book with the personal penchant of Go Big or Go Home in mind, eyed it back whenever I felt it eyeing me, and began. Now at the end, older and wiser and a few Wiki articles smarter, I say that if O’Connor’s character are grotesque, I know an awful lot of grotesque people. I say that the archaic definition of awe of dread, terror, is not nearly as archaic as some would believe and far more hope. I say that if I wanted to understand O’Connor, I would have to understand the South, and to do that I would have to understand Catholicism, and to do that I would have to devote my life to literature in a much more concentrated manner than I am want to seriously consider.

    “The world was made for the dead. Think of all the dead there are.

    Fortunately for O’Connor, morality is an uncomfortable nitpick for and will be so for the rest of days. Unfortunately for O’Connor, I read her long after my phase of existential grasping had faded to musing embers and the chance of conversion was ripe for the rotting. Fortunately, I am all too well acquainted with the tightwire between “I am a good person,” and “I see me when I’m sleeping, . I know when I’m awake,” to the point of nauseated pain, enough to see what she seeks to show in other things beyond the scope of religion and belief. Unfortunately, I am neither in love enough with her particular disturbation to seek her out before the very far future has come my way, nor am I certain that my positive judgment of her work hinges but a little on the whiteness of my skin. Conflict, conflict. Whether good or ill for her, she will long be kept as a subject of contemplation.

    She was sorry that the poor man had been chased out of Poland and run across Europe and had had to take up in a tenant shack in a strange country, but she had not been responsible for any of it…[he] had probably not had to struggle enough.

    There’s something ugly but true in all of her works, a vein that would do well to acquire a name deeper than the common ‘hypocrisy’ when realization of such often demands the death of the realizer, if not more. All for the reader’s benefit, of course, the implication of ‘woe to those who refuse to heed’ thrown in free with sardonic glee. Not horror, but Old Testament. Not raison d’être, but your godforsaken soul.

    “Oh, I see,” the stranger said. “It ain’t the Day of Judgment for him you’re worried about, it’s the Day of Judgment for you.”

    I may not be Catholic, but that is not an “anything but”.

    “…she might experience a painful realization and this would be the only thing of value he had to leave her.


    …more