Ontological Splendor of the Concrete

Glenn C. Arbery begins an article about Flannery O’Connor with:

Toward the end of her life, Flannery O’Connor was often asked to speak about being a Southerner, as though this were a peculiar condition in need of explanation. In “The Catholic Novelist in the Protestant South,” a composite essay published from two of her last public talks, she sums up what she thinks of her region: “What has given the South her identity are those beliefs and qualities which she has absorbed from the Scriptures and from her own history of defeat and violation: a distrust of the abstract, a sense of human dependence on the grace of God, and a knowledge that evil is not simply a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be endured.” Of these three dimensions of the South, “distrust of the abstract” might remain the one most in need of a defense, whether for the South, for O’Connor herself, or for literature as a mode of knowledge.

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