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Monday, September 20, 2010

Wise Blood

Flannery O'Connor had always been something of a mystery to me. I had read one of her short stories years ago and been reminded of her importance as a southern writer countless times, yet never managed to simply read her. Her first novel Wise Blood, which I read in one sitting on a transatlantic flight back to Europe, was thus my first true stab at her writing and I have to say that I am torn. While I enjoyed the grotesque scenery and its protagonists - the seemingly blind preacher and his as innocent child, the crook and his perfection of the Church without Christ, - the plot - for me in any case, Wikipedia disagrees to some extent - was largely carried by the main protagonist's (Motes) inner struggle with religion or rather his attempts at shaking it. This kind of inner-religious struggle does not have to be a problem per se (see Joyce's version), yet I found it difficult in this case to relate to the main character of the novel. Literature if it is to have an effect on me has to deal with a universal problem subject, its regional or cultural setting matters little. Love, hate, war, fear, a wide variety of topics hold appeal for me in that sense, an inner struggle concentrating on religion is not amongst those. If one does not believe, how is one to relate to someone grappling with his belief? To put it shortly, I was far less impressed with O'Connor than I would have expected considering the reviews she had received from people whose taste I would usually trust.

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