Monday, June 15, 2009

The Habit of Being -- Happy 30th!

I am always interested when visitors to Andalusia tell me that they enjoy reading O'Connor's letters in The Habit of Being even more than her fiction. Perhaps she would be horrified to know that some readers find her personal correspondence even more entertaining and/or meaningful than her novels and short stories. I am reminded of a wonderful line from one of our volunteers, a close friend of both Flannery and Regina O'Connor, who said "Flannery couldn't write a dull sentence if she had to." I agree with that assessment completely. Controversial and politically incorrect as they are, and perhaps insensitive to a degree, O'Connor's letters are still a fascinating treasure-trove of theological insight, literary commentary, and laugh-out-loud humor. I think the letters also demonstrate how O'Connor assumed various personae for different correspondents, which is most evidential in the letters to her closest friends, such as "A" (Betty Hester), Maryat Lee, Cecil Dawkins, and the Fitzgeralds. Reading the letters following a visit to Andalusia is a great way to extend the experience of immersing oneself in the setting that inspired one of the greatest writers in American literature. I highly recommend The Habit of Being, especially for 2009, the thirtieth anniversary of its publication.


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