OPINIONSrnFlannery Flummeryrnby J.O. Tatern”[I]fl were not a Catholic, I would have no reason to write, no reason to see,rnno reason to feel horrified or even to enjoy anything . . . J feel myself that beingrna Catholic has saved me a couple of thousand years in learning to write.”rn—Flannery O’ConnorrnFlannery O’Connor:rnThe Obedient Imaginationrnby Sarah GordonrnAthens: University of Georgia Press;rn270 pp., $29.95rnProfessor Gordon provokes—she certainh’rndocs not evoke — memories ofrndas in Millcdgeville, Georgia, fourrndecades ago and more, when FlannervrnO’Connor was a presence in that notablerntown, formerlv the capital of the PeachrnState. Though Dr. Gordon is a professorrnof English in the same town, at the collegernfrom which O’Connor was graduated,rnand though she is the editor of thernFlannery O’Connor Bulletin, she doesrnnot write, it seems, “from” that place, hideed,rnshe seems to be contemptuous of it.rnShe knows better than Millcdgeville didrnor does, and also—more strikingly—betterrnthan Flannerv’ O’Connor herself Herrnvolume, decades in the making, is rcmarkablvrnambivalent in relation to itsrnsubject. About that ec[uivocation, I willrnha e more to sa’.rnj.O. Tate is a professor of F^nglish atrnDowling College on Long Island.rnBut first, I think, the principle of fullrndisclosure rcciuires me to acknowledgernthat 1 was once associated with the Planner)’rnO’Connor Bulletin myself hideed,rnthe Planner)’ O’Connor Bulletin was myrnidea, though it was never my doing.rnHave the founder and the first and secondrneditors of the bulletin gone uncitedrnin Gordon’s book because they actuallyrnknew and understood Flanner)- O’Connorrnin context? Be that as it may, thoughrntime lias taken its toll, there are still peoplernin Millcdgeville and elsewhere whornremember O’Connor as she was. Gordonrnhas made it necessary to name tiiernperson rather than the author, for herrnanalyses of works lead inevitably towardrndeprecation of the writer who inscribedrnthem.rnDr. Gordon, by beginning her accountrnof O’Connor “heartened by thernsteady increase in her readership” in thernlast 30 years, seems to be saying that herrnacc|uaintanee with the O’Connor oeuvrernis die history of O’Connor’s reputation.rnGordon claims to ha’e been “appalled byrnthe lack of knowledge about—and evenrnworse, the apparent lack of interest in —rnO’Connor’s strange, fmmy, deeplyrnhaunting tales.” Funny she should mentionrnthat, because it was not so, thoughrnshe has tried to make it be. Gordon goesrnon to deprecate tiie O’Connor Collectionrnas it was 30 years ago in the libran,- ofrnthe Georgia State College for Womenrn(O’Connor’s alma mater), while neglectingrnto mention that it was the only one ofrnits kind and did register a recognition ofrnO’Connor’s work. “[W]c were convincedrntiiat O’Connor would inevitablyrnfind her readership and that even locallyrnshe would be recognized.” But O’Connorrnhad already made her mark locally asrnwell as in the nation and the world, sornFEBRUARY 2001/25rnrnrn