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Misappropriating the Misanthropic May 16, 2009

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Joseph O’Neill’s recent article on Flannery O’Connor “Touched by Evil” in the Atlantic this month gets Flannery and her work entirely wrong. O’Neill seems unable to grasp that O’Connor is a metaphysical writer whose “realism” is simply the way she lures the modern reader into her fables of faith gone wrong—or simply dumped by the roadside as trash. Instead, he looks at her tales for evidence of how she compensated for her life’s tragedy—basically, he thinks, by projecting her inner demons onto the people around her. He can’t allow himself to credence her view that we are living in a “distorted” world, completely thrown over to the seductions of materialism. For O’Neill, what is distorted is not the world. It is O’Connor herself. (more…)