Flannery O’Connor on Freaks in the Christ-haunted South

From Flannery O’Connor’s 1960 lecture, Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction

Whenever I’m asked why Southern writers particularly have a penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to recognize one. To be able to recognize a freak, you have to have some conception of the whole man, and in the South the general conception of man is still, in the main, theological. That is a large statement, and it is dangerous to make it, for almost anything you say about Southern belief can be denied in the next breath with equal propriety. But approaching the subject from the standpoint of the writer, I think it is safe to say that while the South is hardly Christ-centered, it is most certainly Christ-haunted. The Southerner, who isn’t convinced of it, is very much afraid that he may have been formed in the image and likeness of God. Ghosts can be very fierce and instructive. They cast strange shadows, particularly in our literature. In any case, it is when the freak can be sensed as a figure for our essential displacement that he attains some depth in literature.

Hear O’Connor read a version of her lecture here.

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3 comments

  1. Pingback: Flannery O’Connor on freaks in the Christ-haunted South | s i l o u a n
  2. William Custer · November 8, 2010

    never heard Flannery’s voice, it was pretty close to what I expected small southern expressing her piercing wit?
    Anybody out there enjoy her work like myself? custerdude@hotmail.com

    Like

  3. Pingback: Hints and Guesses | Backseat Dramaturg

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