The Letters of Flannery O'Connor and Caroline Gordon
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The Letters of Flannery O'Connor and Caroline Gordon

Edited by Christine Flanagan

Title Details

Pages: 272

Illustrations: 2 b&w images

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 10/01/2018

ISBN: 9-780-8203-5408-8

List Price: $34.95


Pub Date: 10/01/2018

ISBN: 9-780-8203-5407-1

List Price: $34.95


Pub Date: 10/01/2022

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6365-3

List Price: $25.95

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Published with the generous support of Friends Fund

The Letters of Flannery O'Connor and Caroline Gordon

Edited by Christine Flanagan

Newly published correspondence that sheds light on two literary luminaries

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  • Reviews

"This girl is a real novelist," wrote Caroline Gordon about Flannery O’Connor upon being asked to review a manuscript of O’Connor’s first novel, Wise Blood. "She is already a rare phenomenon: a Catholic novelist with a real dramatic sense, one who relies more on her technique than her piety."

This collection of letters and other documents offers the most complete portrait of the relationship between two of the American South’s most acclaimed twentieth-century writers: Flannery O’Connor and Caroline Gordon. Gordon (1895–1981) had herself been a protégée of an important novelist, Ford Madox Ford, before publishing nine novels and three short story collections of her own, most notably, The Forest of the South and Old Red and Other Stories, and she would offer insights and friendship to O’Connor during almost all of O’Connor’s career.

As revealed in this collection of correspondence, Gordon’s thirteen-year friendship with O’Connor (1925–64) and the critiques of O’Connor’s fiction that she wrote during this time not only fostered each writer’s career but occasioned a remarkable series of letters full of insights about the craft of writing. Gordon, a more established writer at the start of their correspondence, acted as a mentor to the younger O’Connor and their letters reveal Gordon’s strong hand in shaping some of O’Connor’s most acclaimed work, including Wise Blood, "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," and "The Displaced Person."

Readers knowledgeable about the strong friendship between Flannery O’Connor and Caroline Gordon will applaud Christine Flanagan’s gathering of this instructive and compelling collection. The often imperious and strong-willed Gordon was certainly a force in O’Connor’s development as a writer; this carefully annotated exchange underscores both O’Connor’s acquiescence and her frequent resistance to Gordon’s rigorous ideas. This volume will certainly be an important source for scholars for years to come.

—Sarah Gordon, author of Flannery O’Connor: The Obedient Imagination and A Literary Guide to Flannery O’Connor’s Georgia

While O’Connor’s status as the preeminent author of Southern Catholic literature won’t be changing anytime soon, Flanagan has given us many reasons to believe that Gordon helped get her there. Indeed, Flanagan makes a sensible case that Gordon’s own fiction—long considered second fiddle to the works of O’Connor, Walker Percy, and other Southern Catholic mavens—deserves a fresh valuation.

—National Review

Flanagan’s exhaustive research has allowed her to construct a detailed picture of the lives of both of these writers, providing important insights into the lives of midcentury Southern women writers.… Christine Flanagan has produced an invaluable resource for readers, scholars, and creative writers alike.

—Monica Miller, American Literary History Online Review

The Letters of Flannery O’Connor and Caroline Gordon. . .throw[s] into fresh relief the tension of O’Connor’s being confined, geographically, to the rim of the literary world just as, professionally, she established her place in its hub.

—Sean Johnson, FORMA Review

In The Letters of Flannery O’Connor and Caroline Gordon, the editor Christine Flanagan gathers an admirable collection that traces the fascinating relationship between two women committed to both their Catholic faith and the craft of fiction. Yet unlike much of O’Connor’s correspondence with others, this one stands out as a kind of student-teacher relationship in which O’Connor, at least in the beginning, is the gifted student and Gordon the seasoned, exacting teacher.

—Maura Shea, America Magazine

The letters are notable for their insight into the craft of writing, how each author shaped the other's work, and how their mutual, constructive criticism contributed to the evolution of what have become literary classics.

—Tanfer Emin Tunc, The Journal of Southern History

About the Author/Editor

CHRISTINE FLANAGAN is a professor of English at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. A recipient of the Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching, Flanagan is a faculty member in the University Honors Program, faculty advisor for the Elixir (the USciences’ literary journal), and coordinator of the Misher Festival of Fine Arts and Humanities. She lives in Haddonfield, New Jersey.