The Narrative Secret of Flannery O'Connor
The Trickster As Interpreter
ISBN10: 081735588X ISBN13: 9780817355883 Publisher: Univ of Alabama Pr Published: Sep 13 2009 Pages: 210 Weight: 0.80lbs. Height: 9.00" Width: 6.00" Depth: 0.75" Language: English
The Narrative Secret of Flannery O'Connor provides new insights into the full corpus of O'Connors fiction by exploring the intersection of O'Connor's artistic intentions and her religions preoccupations. Johansen looks first at how the stories create meaning in order to explain what they mean. Drawing on a variety of critical methods from narratology, anthropology, mythology, and reader response criticism, this study invites us to reconsider O'Connor's complex and enigmatic texts through their structures and actions. By focusing on the interplay of O'Connor's narrative structures, the human psyche, and the institutions and traditions of our collective history - particularly ancient myths and legends - Johansen illuminates the relation between narration, the self, and spiritual transformation. O'Connor's narratives employ figures, gestures, and actions that work to deceive or disorient the reader. These havoc-wreaking forces in and among the stories most resemble the archetypal trickster. Johansen demonstrates that, through such tricksteresque activity, O'Connor's narratives push the reader to acknowledge the perverse, violent, and often disorderly aspects of human and divine behavior. The religious secret of O'Connor narratives - revealed in shimmering environments where narration and incarnation meet - is that both evil and good, the grotesque and the ideal, violence and peace, Satan and God, the human and the divine exist together in sacred unity. O'Connor's literary secret, through which she discloses the religious one, is to tell stories that return human beings to original mythic events. By recasting these events in contemporary fiction, with the assistance of the trickster, she performs a ritual function that is as necessary in an individualistic, technological age as it is in a communitarian, primitive one. With its emphasis on narrative structures, this investigation of O'Connor's writing holds significance for other literature studies because it enables readers to see what results from the common failure to understand the interdependence of narration and incarnation: a reduction of both literature and religion to barren systems insulating people from mythic truths rather than pulling them toward freedom. This book discloses the double function of language through which spiritual, intellectual, and even social transformations become possible. On the one hand, language erects a cultural canon to secure people against fear of freedom and the threat of chaos. On the other hand, when language playfully subverts the canon by returning it to its wild, forgotten origins for renewal, it challenges human beings to free themselves from dying religious metaphors and decaying social institutions.