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The Narrative Secret of Flannery O'Connor, The Narrative Secret of Flannery O'Connor, 081735588X, 0-8173-5588-X, 978-0-8173-5588-3, 9780817355883,

The Narrative Secret of Flannery O'Connor
The Trickster as Interpreter
by Ruthann Knechel Johansen

Quality Paper
2009. 224 pp.
978-0-8173-5588-3
Price:  $29.95 s

Winner of the 1992 Elizabeth Agee Manuscript Prize from The University of Alabama Press


"The 'narrative secret' of Johansen's title refers to the strategies that she sees O'Connor using in her effort to communicate a spiritual message to a doubting audience. O'Connor knew from the beginning of her career that writing about the thing that mattered most to her--a person's relationship in faith with Jesus--and being taken seriously as a writer meant [choosing] a dramatic and difficult way to get her vision across: to write stories that work first and foremost as engaging narratives and at the same time open up to the divine in the everyday world.
"Johansen gives sensitive and insightful readings of O'Connor's texts, particularly Wise Blood and The Violent Bear It Away. Along the way she quietly builds toward her conclusion that O'Connor herself is best understood as a trickster who disrupts our normal way of seeing in order to open us to a larger, Christian realm of perception.
"Johansen . . . goes a long way toward unlocking the diverse strategies employed by O'Connor. Her thoroughgoing knowledge of O'Connor's work is always impressive. It's a lively time for O'Conner criticism, and Johansen is certainly one of O'Connor's more lively readers."
--South Atlantic Review


 

Ruthann Knechel Johansen is President of Bethany Theological Seminary and also the author of Listening in the Silence, Seeing in the Dark: Reconstructing Life after Brain Injury.


"I recommend the book to readers interested in the trickster, and those who know and love O'Connor's fiction enough to relish new insights. . . . Johansen has earned her place in the ranks of those who continue to delight in O'Connor's fiction, to delight in attempts to explain its power over us, and to take pleasure in the certainty that her fiction will continue to elude our explanations."
--Text and Performance Quarterly

"The 'narrative secret' of Johansen's title refers to the strategies that she sees O'Connor using in her effort to communicate a spiritual message to a doubting audience. O'Connor knew from the beginning of her career that writing about the thing that mattered most to her--a person's relationship in faith with Jesus--and being taken seriously as a writer meant [choosing] a dramatic and difficult way to get her vision across: to write stories that work first and foremost as engaging narratives and at the same time open up to the divine in the everyday world.
"Johansen gives sensitive and insightful readings of O'Connor's texts, particularly Wise Blood and The Violent Bear It Away. Along the way she quietly builds toward her conclusion that O'Connor herself is best understood as a trickster who disrupts our normal way of seeing in order to open us to a larger, Christian realm of perception.
"Johansen . . . goes a long way toward unlocking the diverse strategies employed by O'Connor. Her thoroughgoing knowledge of O'Connor's work is always impressive. It's a lively time for O'Conner criticism, and Johansen is certainly one of O'Connor's more lively readers."
--South Atlantic Review


Winner of the Elizabeth Agee Prize in American Literature, 1992

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