again it was not so. Dismissing O’Connor’srn”popularih- in the college b’.nglishrnDepartment” and “a handfnl of local enthusiasts,”rnGordon is dismissing preeiscKrnthose people w ho knew Flanner 0″C>)nnorrnand her work when she herself arrirned helatedly on the scene. Histor beginsrnwith Sarah Gordon! These openingrnfallacies are the equi’alcnt of saing HiatrnGordon’s solipsism amoimts to whatrnthere is to be known about O’Connor,rnand that she is the only auth()rit- inrnlhlledgcille on the subject.rnA s far as local recognition is con-rn.ccrned, I distinctK- remember beingrnwith m classmate and friend WalterrnRee’es in 1960 as he regaled his motherrnand me with a spirited reading of die passagernin The Violent Bear Away in whichrnthe young Tarwater pretends to be an idiotrnin order to fool the truant officer, hirnresponse, there was mnch laughter allrnaround, as Walter held his new hardboundrnfirst edihon, shll in its puqjle dustrnjacket. The 1962 second edition of \7scrnBlood was in a red dust jacket when Irnbought a eop’ from Mrs. Colgroe at herrngift shop, .Vlarc’s. 1 gae diat c()p’ to anotherrnfriend, Marion Coombs, w ho read itrnforthwith and understood it completeK’.rnHe said he was quite moved b it, as wellrnhe should have been, even though hernwas a mere local fellow of 17 ears. Irnriiink he read The Faerie Qiieene for thernfirst finie Hiat vear also, because he hadrnalready pretts’ much done Sliakes]3eare.rn o u know, it is just remarkable whatrnthese hicks from the sfieks w ill get up to.rn’les, indeed, people in Milledgeillernknew who Flanner O’Connor was,rnthough not all of them cottoned to her.rnM- grandmodier, for instance, did notrntake to her work—her taste ran more tornMrs. Gaskcll. But my parents respondedrnnot only to her work but to O’Connorrnherself. M’ mother enjoyed lier and admiredrnher; my father loved her andrnwould do —indeed did c/o—antliing herneordd to help her. They saw quite a bit ofrnher at her home, Andalusia. I saw MissrnO’Connor many finies, embarking fromrnher mother’s ear on crutches, proceedingrnto Inncli at the Sanford House. (Let merndigress to say that lunch at the SanfordrnHouse was something else—’ou do notrnsee beaten biscuits on a menu er’ often.rnI even remember the salad dressing.)rnOddly enough (and speaking of narcissism),rnFlannery O’Connor saw mc: Sherneven mentioned doing so in a letter thatrnhas ‘et to be exposed to the world, or tornanalwsis by aliens. But in those days, itrnwas routine to see Flanner in front of thernold Campus Theater, sitting in the rightrnhand seat of die O’C^onnor car while herrnmodier ran errands, as she greeted andrnwas greeted b’ all sorts of peo]Dle.rn’Fliat was on the street. But I rememberrnanother occasion when Maryat Leernand her niece, Deanie, took me up to Andalusiarnto ‘isit wirii diat person who wasrnso often die topic of conxersafion. Thernview from Hie farmhouse, 1 knew, hadrnbeen “done.” (I was to remember thatrnline of trees and the sun and the peacocksrnlater on when I read that Custa- Mahlerrnonce declared to Bruno Walter, as the latterrngaped at his smmuer cnironment,rn”Ve composed that alreadw”) FlanneryrnO’Connor, on diat occasion at least, wasrnrecessed in shade in the house. She wasrncomposed, guarded, and centered in arncertain way fiiat I had neer known before,rnand have not since, though I havernencountered perhaps a few other geniuses.rnI think that part of her self-possessionrnand her achieved siniplieih’ was esscnhal-rnIv a matter of effieiene-. O’Connor didrnnot waste her energ, since diat was challenged,rnbut saed the best part of herselfrnfor what was most important, the eultivafionrnof her ‘ision.rnThe last time I saw Flannery O’Connorrnwas on August 4, 1964, but I did notrnrealh’ see her because she was in a coffinrnat the time.rndinning from these recollections tornDr. Gordon’s accoiuit of O’Connor, Irnfind I ha e at best a mixed bag before me.rnI think there are some good filings in filernbook —such as the author’s commentsrnabout James Thurber as cartoonist andrnst”list — that are insightfid and useful.rnThere is too much in it that paraphrasesrnthe work of ofiiers, but what is worse is itsrninsistence on an “openness” which is arnpath to confusion. “Flanncr- O’Connor”rnhas been treated extensiyely, but finall’rnshe was her own best crific, and remainsrnso. That is because she insisted onrnknowing her own mind, and because shernmeant it when she said that the sensibilityrnand the dramatic imagination had tornbe fused. When slie was at the top of herrnform, they were. That being the ease, shernleft less for anahsts to w ork with than otherrnwriters liac done, if only in the sensernthat what seems to be seamless perfection,rnas in “Good Countrx People,” has arnwa- of quelling conunents other thanrn”Good griefi” or “Braxa! iMieore!”rnI do not at all mean to say fiiat O’Connorrnis imnnine or iniper ious to criticismrnor analysis because, in the first place, it isrnthrough these that we imderstand craftrnand, in the second, not all of O’Connor’srnwork has ])erfeet pitch. I do not think fiiatrn”A View of tlie Woods” or “The Comfortsrnof Home” (to mention two stories)rnare equal to her best work. Nor do I belicye,rnthe world being as it is, that Flaniier-rnO’Connor lias an- claim to exenipfionrnfrom file trashing routinely directedrnat other writers, such as the wife-oppressingrnNathaniel Hawfiiorne, the wife-beatingrnHerman MeK ille, or fiie wife-abusingrnF. Scott Fit/gerald, to name butrnfiiree. And it is just at fiiis point fiiat wernsee die problem that has congested Dr.rnGordon’s rhetoric. Framing the questionrnfiiat is, in effect, “When did F O’C stoprnbeafing her w ife? ” is not so tpiestion takes masked forms,rnsuch as the problem of O’Connor’s religion.rnThis is presented by Dr. Gordon asrnthe internalization of “patriarchal values,”rnwhich might lead us to ask twornquesfions of our own. The first woidd be,rnWhat in bla/es arc matriarchal yalues?rn(A matriarch} has nescr been idenfified,rnas Marin Harris has pointed out.) Thenrnanofiier question: If being a Catholic andrnembracing a rational aesthetic (as fromrndie New Critics) represents adopting filern”male gaze,” then what exactly are werntalking about? O’Connor’s religiousrncoriiniitnient and her aesthetic modelsrnarc, after all, the ones she knew. Withoutrnthem, she is unimaginable, because fiieyrnmade her w^iat she was. As for womanhoodrnitself, wli has O’Connor’s notablernachievement as a woman been writtenrnoff b) feminists? Is it because she dismissedrnfeminism and had such a keenrnsense of file demonic forces hidden behindrnmental disorder, or was it because ofrnthe jealousy keenly felt by the ungiftedrnand ungracious for the superior attainmentrnof the artist, or was it both — or evenrnsomefiiing else from the feminist funnyrnfarm we have not heard about yet? And ifrndie achieyemeut of art, the maintenancernof faith, and the acceptance of earlyrndeadi eomit so litfie from fiiis woman,rnriien w ho cares about anything anyway?rnBut liaing piaed the feminist cardrnwhile frequenfi’ acknowledging its irrelevance.rnDr. Gordon has played the racerncard as well. It was Flannery O’Connor,rnif I am not mistaken—and not any delegaternto the left w ing of the DemocraticrnParty —who wrote “The Artificial Nigger,”rnin which the airthor showed —rnthrough a decrepit, vulgar, and mysteriousrnlawn ornament-the acfion of gracern26,/CHKONICLESrnrnrn