Revising Flannery O'ConnorBy Katherine Hemple Prown
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writer and traces the cultural origins of the complicated aesthetic that informs O'Connor's fiction, both published and unpublished.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 underlies the shift from the relatively "feminine" authorial voice of O'Connor's earliest drafts toward the decidely 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.